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Denmark has an impressive track record when it comes to the adoption of renewable energy, and the nation has been working quickly to develop its substantial offshore wind potential. Last month, with the installation of their 36th 3.6 megawatt (MW) Siemens wind turbine, the nation reached an impressive 1 GW wind-power capacity – enough to power 25 percent of the nation. Moreover, they aim to be 50 percent powered by wind farms within the next eight years, not simply through the installation of renewable energy infrastructure, but through a holistic adoption of energy-efficient policies and technologies.
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Denmark’s aim to be 50 percent powered by offshore wind by 2020 suggests that the country’s adoption of renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure is running ahead of schedule—just last year a government report stated a goal for 35 percent by 2020, and an extraordinary 100 percent from renewables by 2050. The latest turbine installation brought the capacity of Denmark’s Anholt closer to the total 400MW generation planned for the facility, which is one of five significant wind farms in Danish waters.
According to Forbes, however, this is set to soon be eclipsed as the government puts out a call for bids for an additional 1,500 MW (1.5 GW), of offshore wind. In the near term, wind power will be accompanied by biomass and gas power, in an effort to take all coal-fired plants offline within 20 years. But Denmark, fast to embrace the enormous wind potential of the North Sea, has met with a few bumps as they develop greater reliance on offshore farms.
The New York Times explained “A major concern is that the supply of electricity might exceed demand for about 1,000 hours each year by 2020 unless there are substantial changes in the way electricity is managed in Denmark,” management which currently relies on exporting excess wind power to support hydroelectric systems in nearby Norway and Sweden, and then buying renewable energy back in times of lower supply or in other words “Norway and Sweden’s hydro systems serve as large batteries in a larger interconnected system.” But there have been rare instances of this system failing — for a few hours over the winter, Denmark’s surplus was so great that they had to pay other countries to take their wind power.
As for the adoption of broader sustainable practices, Copenhagen provides an extraordinary example of ambitious planning with an aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025 through a number of strategies. Nationwide, the government appears equally hopeful. The government hopes to have 200,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2020, and recently installed Europe’s first nationwide electric car charging network. Better Place estimates that there could be 20,000 electric cars on Danish roads by 2014—which will far from make up the majority of traffic in a nation of 5.5 million people, but it’s still a substantial start.