Energy Policy and Denmark
A technical critique of Denmark's wind energy development and operation. A brief summary of the report appears below. The full report can be downloaded by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
Almost a fifth of the electricity produced annually in Denmark is generated by wind, yet only about 6% of the country’s electricity demand is satisfied directly from this source. Possibly two-thirds of its wind power output cannot be used to satisfy domestic needs at the moment of generation, and has to be exported (often at reduced prices) to preserve the integrity of the grid. Savings in carbon emissions are minimal. Public opposition and reduced subsidies have halted the deployment of on-shore wind turbines for the time being, but political and commercial interests are pressing to integrate much larger amounts of wind power into radically altered domestic and international transmission systems.
Rube Goldberg would admire the utter purity of the pretensions of wind technology in
pursuit of a safer modern world, claiming to be saving the environment while wreaking
havoc upon it. But even he might be astonished by the spin of wind industry spokesmen.
Consider the comments made by the American Wind Industry Association.s Christina
Real de Azua in the wake of the virtual nonperformance of California.s more than 13,000
wind turbines in mitigating the electricity crisis precipitated by last July.s .heat storm..
.You really don.t count on wind energy as capacity,. she said. .It is different from other
technologies because it can.t be dispatched.. (84) The press reported her comments
solemnly without question, without even a risible chortle. Because they perceive time to
be running out on fossil fuels, and the lure of non-polluting wind power is so seductive,
otherwise sensible people are promoting it at any cost, without investigating potential
negative consequences-- and with no apparent knowledge of even recent environmental
history or grid operations.
Eventually, the pedal of wishful thinking and political demagoguery will meet the
renitent metal of reality in the form of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (85) and
public resistance, as it has in Denmark and Germany. Ironically, support for industrial
wind energy because of a desire for reductions in fossil-fueled power and their polluting
emissions leads ineluctably to nuclear power, particularly under pressure of relentlessly
increasing demand for reliable electricity. Environmentalists who demand dependable
power generation at minimum environmental risk should take care about what they wish
for, more aware that, with Rube Goldberg machines, the desired outcome is unlikely to
be achieved. Subsidies given to industrial wind technology divert resources that could
otherwise support effective measures, while uninformed rhetoric on its behalf distracts
from the discourse.and political action-- necessary for achieving more enlightened
International Experience With Implementing Wind
Energy examines the relative costs, advantages and disadvantages
of wind generation. In addition, the report
explores infrastructure issues, public attitudes toward
wind development, and the various policy instruments
used to support the development of wind energy in
countries that are leaders in implementing wind energy.
The West Danish model clearly shows that the installation of large numbers of wind turbines can lead to severe and expensive problems with power transmission, and seriously degrade wildlife habitats and the aesthetic value of land- and seascapes for little or no reduction in carbon emissions. It is therefore imperative that energy conservation schemes and alternative sources of renewable energy are more thoroughly explored before large swathes of unique UK countryside and coastal scenery are lost to industrial wind stations. Conservation measures alone could reduce UK carbon emissions by 30% (Coppinger, 2003).
This working paper is made available by the Resource and Environmental economics and
Policy Analysis (REPA) Research Group at the University of Victoria. REPA working
papers have not been peer reviewed and contain preliminary research findings. They shall
not be cited without the expressed written consent of the author(s).
Editor's Note: The authors’ conclusion regarding ‘effective capacity’, i.e. the measure of
a generator’s contribution to system reliability that is tied to meeting peak loads, is that it “is difficult to generalize, as it is a highly site-specific quantity determined by the correlation between wind resource and load” and that ‘values range from 26 % to 0% of rated capacity.” This conclusion is based, in part, on a 2003 study by the California Energy Commission that estimated that three wind farm aggregates- Altamont, San Gorgonio and Tehachpi, which collectively represent 75% of California’s deployed wind capacity- had relative capacity credits of 26.0%, 23.9% and 22.0% respectively. It is noteworthy that during California’s Summer ’06 energy crunch, as has been widely publicized in the press, wind power produced at 254.6 MW (10.2% of wind’s rated capacity of 2,500MW) at the time of peak demand (on July 24th) and over the preceding seven days (July 17-23) produced at 89.4 to 113.0 MW, averaging only 99.1 MW at the time of peak demand or just 4% of rated capacity.
"The global oil price rise in the 1970s
prompted the Danish government to
switch to imported coal for its thermal
power stations and to start a wind energy
programme targeted at generating 10% of
electricity by 2000. The target was
achieved and there are now 5500 wind
turbines rated at 3000 MW—including
the world’s two largest offshore wind
farms at Nysted (Fig. 1) and Horns Rev—
producing around 16% of national
This paper reports on performance data
of the west Denmark power grid, to
which 80% of the country’s wind power
is connected. The east Denmark power
grid is entirely separate but both grids are
heavily interconnected to the national
grids of neighbouring countries to the
north and south."
This table shows the Danish emissions of greenhouse gases calculated in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol.
In 2003 Denmark has increased the emissions by 6.2% compared to the base year (1990) and by 7.3% compared to 2002.
If you really want to cut energy consumption, reduce pollution, improve public health and protect our environment, it’s time to contact your elected officials, educate them about the lessons of Denmark, Germany and elsewhere, and tell them you want tougher energy efficiency measures instead of wind power plants.
Otherwise, in the next few years, you’ll be looking at wind turbines in some of your favorite places, with the knowledge that they’re doing little more than funneling your tax dollars to a few lucky corporations and landowners, and away from better solutions.
Denmark (population c. 5.4 million) is a leading pioneer in renewable energy. Since 1985 it has set up about 3,100 MW of wind capacity. Of this 420 MW are sited offshore (Nielsen, 2004), and more is planned for the near future (Bendtsen and Hedegaard, 2004). Over the same period many small gas- or bio-fuelled CHP plants were deployed, primarily for local district heating but also to produce electricity. Interest in solar power is also considerable.