Energy Minister Lars Christian Lilleholt expects to be able to withdraw financial support for green energy “within a few years”. This is because advances in technology and installation capability have reduced costs to the extent that the industry is soon expected to out-compete fossil-fuels, something many people thought would never be possible.
Denmark plans to cover 70% of its energy needs with renewables by 2020, and 100% by 2050. The transition is moving at pace and the government is satisfied it will be reached. Lilleholt said: “Everything suggests that technology will help make renewable energy more and more competitive. Already today, it’s impossible to build a new coal power plant without support.”
Denmark has exceptionally high wind capacity. It is home to two of the world's largest wind companies, Vestas Wind Systems which makes turbines and Dong Energy A/S, the world's biggest off-shore wind farm operator.
In July 2015 Denmark's wind sector first provided all of the country's energy needs. In fact 140% of its national energy was generated that day, due to high winds. Since then it has regularly powered itself solely on renewables. Inter-connectors with Germany, Sweden and Norway allow Denmark to export surplice energy. In Germany this energy is stored using a pumped storage hydro-electric system.
Industry insiders are impressed with the progress of Denmark's green energy sector. Niels B. Christiansen is the outgoing chief executive officer for heating/cooling engineering company Danfross A/S. He expects the cost of renewable energy to fall below market electricity prices some time between 2020 and 2030. He said: “A year ago, it was debatable whether renewable energy costs could drop so low. But everyone’s now thinking that it will probably happen sooner.”
In Denmark renewable energy initiatives were kick-started after the oil crisis of the 1970s exposed the country's reliance on imported fossil-fuels. State of Green, a public private partnership was established to promote home-grown energy sources. Iver Nielson is a spokesman: “We had to say never; we’ll never see this again, we must do something about this.”
Unusually perhaps, politicians have not interfered with the program. “We have had a conservative government, and we have a social democrat government, but the energy policy has continued,” Nielson added.