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.
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.
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.