Denmark Reaches 2020 Goal for Solar. Only 8 Years Early.

October 14, 2012

Continuing a pattern. Countries, states, businesses and cities who begin seriously implementing renewable energy meet with greater success, sooner, at less cost, than even the most optimistic proponents would have imagined.

If we are going to catch up, now would be a good time to get serious.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark:

Huge interest for solar energy solutions has made the amount of solar cells multiply much faster than expected. This is made possible by favourable framework conditions. In fact the solar cell capacity will be a hundred times bigger this year compared with 2010. Currently 36 MW capacity are being mounted every month.

Danish energy sector players, Dansk Energi, Energinet.dk and DONG Energy, estimate that this development will result in 1000 MW by 2020 and 3400 MW by 2030.

Project Manager Kim Schultz from Invest in Denmark explains why the Danish market is booming:

-“The demand for solar cells has increased dramatically since net metering was implemented in 2010. Net metering gives private households and public institutions the possibility of ‘storing’ surplus production in the public grid, which makes solar panels considerably more attractive.”

- “Denmark benefits from a strong design tradition and this also characterizes the Danish solar sector in which aesthetics and thinking ahead of user needs is a central part of product development. This means that solar solutions are more likely to meet consumers’ demands.”

- “Last but not least, Denmark has a unique energy system with a very high share of renewable energy. This makes the energy system very suitable as a platform for Smart Grid technologies, which are a key element to fully exploit renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind energy.”

Below, Denmark is already meeting 40 percent of its power needs from renewables.

Renewables International:
One reason why Germans believe they can switch to renewables so fast is that one of their neighbors, Denmark, proves that it can be done. At the end of September, the Danish Energy Agency announced that the country had crossed the 40% threshold for renewable power, making the share of green electricity in Denmark more than 50% greater than in Germany.

While Germany has an impressive 25% share of renewables in its power supply – up from 20% at the beginning of the year, an increase of 5% in only 6 months – the Danes already had 28.1% wind power alone in 2011, according to a press release published by the Danish Energy Agency at the end of September. As a share of energy consumption (including not only electricity, but also heats and motor fuels), renewables made up 23.6% of the pie.

The statistics are impressive because of the extent to which Denmark and Germany are switching to renewables with intermittent wind and solar power. Other countries, such as Norway and Austria, have traditionally had a much higher share of renewable power and renewable energy, but they base it largely on hydropower and biomass, which are dispatchable (within limits) but also not readily available everywhere.

The Danes have an impressive goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050 for all of their energy, not just electricity; in comparison, the German goal of 85% renewable power by 2050 pales in comparison. But the Danish experience is also different. As the Danish Energy Agency explains, “In 2011 Denmark was the only EU member state to be energy self-sufficient,” with energy production 10% higher than consumption in 2011. The main reason is the large amount of oil that the country has in the North Sea relative to its small population of around 5.5 million.

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19 Responses to “Denmark Reaches 2020 Goal for Solar. Only 8 Years Early.”

  1. Bruce Miller Says:

    Nuclear waste free, plutonium free, renewable, perpetual, eternal, power! no “re-fueling” not ever! no dry holes, no wlls gone dry! no carcenogenic benzine molecules ! Today, The mighty U.S.A. has a terrible cancer! It has an unresolved nuclear waste problem! Once upon a time, “Fast Breeder Reactors” were to resolve this – they never appeared. Then Yucca Moutain Storage was devised – and failed. America’s largest ‘Hidden Deficit” – the costs associated with cleaning up this mess!
    Ontario, Canada follows Denmark with Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Geothermal and CANDU reactors.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      I just saw a Facebook posting that the Premier of Ontario resigned abruptly today.
      And there was plenty talk about the cancellation of gas turbine plants and other issues.

      If the Conservatives in Opposition take control, it’s likely there will be a radical shift in Ontario’s energy strategy.

  2. MorinMoss Says:

    Those socialist Danes have been chasing the greenie fantasy for 30 yrs – why aren’t they bankrupt?
    Why is their public debt to GDP ratio so much better than the USA’s?

  3. MorinMoss Says:

    So yet another not-sunny country finds PV to be viable? C’mon America – what’s holding you back?
    Germany installed 4GW in just Q4 2011 and even their relatively sunny south pales in comparison to 75% of the lower 48

  4. MorinMoss Says:

    According to the last paragraph at
    http://www.solarserver.com/solar-magazine/solar-news/current/2012/kw02/german-pv-installations-in-2011-even-higher-than-in-record-year-2010-3-gw-installed-in-december.html , Germany is also on track to meet their 2020 solar projections years ahead of schedule.


  5. How pathetic are we? If we run out of grit, we will run out of time before we run out of solutions.

  6. rayduray Says:

    I had to do a double take when I saw the figures provided by the Danish Foreign Ministry: “Danish energy sector players, Dansk Energi, Energinet.dk and DONG Energy, estimate that this development will result in 1000 MW by 2020 and 3400 MW by 2030.”

    Here’s a comparable: “The Palo Verde plant in Arizona has three reactors with the largest combined generating capacity (of any U.S. nuclear facility) of about 3,937 Megawatts (MW).” Source: http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=104&t=3

    More about Palo Verde: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palo_Verde_Nuclear_Generating_Station

    I guess what really strikes me about this is how much less energy intensive the successful Danish model is compared to our seemingly profligate energy squandering ways in the U.S.A.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Danish electricity consumption per capita has been roughly flat since ’92 at ~6500 kWh per person-year. The most recent data I can find is for 2009 which was showing a decline to under 6200 so it may even be falling off slowly.
      Their CO2 emissions have fluctuated from 10-13 metric tons from ’65 – ’98 and have been reliably below low since falling to under 8.5 tons in 2008.

      The US trend for CO2 emissions over the same period looks about the same but the numbers are higher – 20-22 tons from ’68 – ’81, then staying mostly around 18.5 tons ( with a few swings up to 20 tons ) until 2008, then falling off by about 1 ton.

      For electricity usage per capita, the US curve is somewhat steeper but otherwise similar except for magnitude – a steady rise from 8,000 to 13,500 kWh from ’72 – ’00 (vs 3,000 – 6,500 from ’70 – ’94 for Denmark ) and relatively flat thereafter with a sudden drop around the start of the financial crisis.

      I suspect the US numbers are greatly helped by California’s large population and low per-capita energy usage.

      • rayduray Says:

        Hi Morin,

        Thanks for adding to this thought about per capita consumption.

        Re: “I suspect the US numbers are greatly helped by California’s large population and low per-capita energy usage.”

        Proof is here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Residential-Energy-consumption.png

        Yes, that’s what my research has shown. California is a land of enlightenment compared to much of the rest of the nation, leading the way on energy issues the national government refuses to tackle.

        Just to play devil’s advocate for a second though, in 1847, just before the Gold Rush, the electricity consumption per capita in California was zero Kwh per capita and remained so until just about the dawn of the 20th Century for the newly abundant American citizens. In the course of about 110 years all of the electricity ever consumed in California has been created and used. In 2012 more electricity is consumed keeping our electronics on standby in the U.S. than was used for every purpose in 1912. We truly live in a remarkable age. :)

        • MorinMoss Says:

          Helpful chart but I’m also looking for historical data on the per-state, per-capita electricity consumption over the last few decades.

          I’d like to see what those USA charts would look like if either CA were excluded or if the usage were more in line with the rest of the Southwest

  7. petersjazz Says:

    Two differences between Sweden:
    1. In Denmark you will get a tax reduction when installing solar panels, in Sweden it a subsidiary that will take long time to get, that will slow down installation speed
    2. Denmark has net meetering. In Sweden we can sell solar electricity but will get a low price compared to Denmark

    • rayduray Says:

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the insights into the differences between Danish and Swedish energy policy. :)

      [Aside: Here in the U.S. the Swedish system would be called a “subsidy”. In American English a subsidiary is a division of a larger entity. For example, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is now a subsidiary of Unilever. Another way of expressing a future subsidy in U.S. tax law is called a tax credit. Our cleverest corporations are magnificent at this game. For example, General Electric made a net profit of over US$5 Billion in 2010 and instead of owing a corporate income tax, GE managed to secure $3.2 Billion from the U.S. government in tax credits, including those on behalf of its profitable wind power subsidiary. Ain’t tax laws (and loopholes) grand!]

    • MorinMoss Says:

      I doubt that Sweden’s model will spur much growth. The insolation levels are not high enough unless there’s a either a sharp reduction in the cost of solar panels or a significant breakthrough in energy conversion or both.

      • petersjazz Says:

        The insolation in Sweden is about the same as in Germany and Denmark, no big differance. Sweden is not as populated, plenty of land to put solar panels and wind farms on. My solar panels outside Stockholm, 17 square meters, will generate 2 MWh a year. The payback time is about 15 year depending on electricy prices. And a have 25 years of garanty on the equipment. But mostly I do it for other reasons than money.


  8. […] Denmark Reaches 2020 Goal for Solar. Only 8 Years Early. […]


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