Thursday, June 25, 2015

Denmark and energy

Those of us who have been preaching that economic growth is not dependent on increased energy use have been ridiculed as idle dreamers for decades.    Of course, it doesn't help that most of the folks who would encourage less fossil fuel consumption usually prescribe policy positions that rely on increasing energy prices.  Anyone who is just scraping by doesn't want to hear anything like that.  So rich and poor in USA believe that it is in everyone's best interest to do what it takes to keep energy cheap and plentiful.

And then there are the Danes who have been taking energy seriously since forever (and certainly since the oil disruptions of the 1970s.)  Now comes the news that their energy consumption is at a 42-year low, even though they have had more or less continuous economic growth in that time frame.

How they actually accomplished that feat is a long story but suffice it to say, they have delinked economic growth from increased energy consumption.  So it can be done.  Folks like me are technological pragmatists—NOT idle dreamers.  And hopefully this lesson will spread—the survival of human life on earth depends on it.

Denmark's energy use hits 42-year low

The Local DK, 31 Jan 2015

Energy use in 2014 was at its lowest point in four decades and is "proof that economic growth doesn't need to mean greater energy use," the Danish Energy Association says.

Denmark’s energy use in 2014 was the lowest since 1972, an analysis from the Danish Energy Association (Dansk Energi) has revealed.

“Since 2007, when Denmark’s energy use peaked, it has fallen by a whole 17 percent. This has happened while our GDP has fallen just slightly during that period and now sits very stabile,” Danish Energy Association chief consultant Rasmus Tengvad wrote in Saturday’s Politiken.

According to Tengvad, Denmark's experience can serve as an inspiration for other nations.

"It is an essential part of the Danish story that since 1973 we have provided proof that economic growth doesn't have to mean greater energy use," he wrote.

Energy use fell by 2.3 percent in 2013 alone and newly-released figures from the Danish Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen) show that the downward trend continued through the first nine months of 2014. Although the year’s final energy calculations have not yet been revealed, it is expected that 2014’s energy use will be the lowest in 42 years.

The largest drop in energy use from 2007-2014 came in Denmark’s production sector, where usage was down by 41 percent. Household use and the transport sector have both cut energy use by 20 percent while the retail and service sector has dropped its usage by 12 percent.

Tengvad wrote that the significantly less energy used by the production sector is not a sign that Denmark’s manufacturing output has fallen.

“The fall in energy use has happened over a period in which industrial production – with the exception of the the crisis’s first year of 2008-2009 – has generally grown. From 2009 to 2013, production grew by 13 percent, while industrial energy use fell by four percent,” he wrote.

The Danish Energy Association said that requirements that energy companies implement energy-saving measures in homes and businesses has also contributed greatly to the dramatic decrease in usage.

“The Danish model – which is emulated on the EU level – benefits not only the environment, but also our exports and ability to compete,” Tengvad wrote.

Tengvad warned however that the conditions that have led to the record low energy use could end up costing consumers.

“The historically low electricity prices, the significant fall in oil prices and the easing of energy levies mean that one can expect rising costs for energy companies,” he wrote. more

See also: Danish wind energy has record year
See also: Denmark has world's best climate policy

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