Denmark has officially enshrined their climate goals into law, as has been reported in several locations over the past 24 hours.
The official Danish Twitter account (@denmarkdotdk) linked to a post on website ‘tcktcktck.org’, confirming reports that the ruling party — the Social Democrats — along with the Conservative People’s Party, the Socialist People’s Party, and the Red-Green Alliance, had made the country’s climate goals a legislative reality.
Denmark have committed to reducing their country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. In December of 2013, wind power accounted for 55% of the country’s electricity — a first for any country.
Denmark has long been a powerhouse when it comes to renewable energy — most prominently thanks to their wind industry. A 2012 report from the American Wind Energy Association noted that the country acquired 26% of their yearly electricity demand from wind — a figure which will only have grown since then.
Denmark’s Climate, Energy and Building Minister, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, noted that the decision made it “truly a great day.”
“The broad agreement on the 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses, to ensure meeting the ambitious targets that the government has set, will continue, even after an election,” Petersen said. “The Conservatives have announced their commitment to an agreement among the parties who take responsibility for the climate.”
Hopefully decisions like this will push other countries in the European Union — and around the world — to similarly make climate goals more than simple PR stunts to attract voters. The need for legally binding decisions like this is paramount as we move forward.
Joshua S Hill I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium. I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.
Agreement in Denmark’s parliament this week cleared the way for passage of climate targets that would outstrip the recent goals set by the European Union.
The bill would establish a legally binding requirement that Denmark cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990′s levels by 2020, and that the government return to the question every five years to set new 10-year targets. The legislation would also establish a Climate Council — modelled on a similar body in Britain — to advise the government on the best ways to continue reducing Denmark’s reliance on fossil fuels.
The bill is backed by the Social Democrats, the Conservative People’s Party, the Socialist People’s Party, and the Red-Green Alliance.
Denmark’s present and former governments have already committed the country to a goal of 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2050, and the new bill is seen as a concrete step to achieving that goal.
“This is a law to make Denmark low carbon society by 2050,” Mattias Soderberg, a senior climate advisor at DanChurchAid, a humanitarian organization in Denmark, told Responding to Climate Change. “With this law Denmark is starting to outline how this process will be done.”
A 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020 is on par with carbon emission cuts the National Research Council advised America to take on in 2010. It’s also noticeably more ambitious than the target the European Parliament recently passed — to cut emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — for the European Union as a whole.
The broader EU target remains non-binding until it’s approved by the governments of the individual countries that make up the group. And debate remains on exactly how the target should be divvied up amongst the member states. So Denmark moving forward with more ambitious cuts at the individual level would put it ahead of the curve set by most of its peers on the Continent.
Denmark is also part of the Emissions Trading System (ETS), Europe’s cap-and-trade system for cutting carbon emissions, which will likely serve as the main driver of both Denmark’s reductions and the EU’s as a whole. Unfortunately, the unexpected drop in economic activity from to the 2008 recession, along with some inherent design flaws, drove the price of carbon permits under the ETS to remarkable lows. That removed the incentive for firms in Europe to cut their carbon emissions, leaving the entire system stalled in limbo.
The ETS’ problems have served as a learning experience for other, newer cap-and-trade systems like California’s. And reforms are in the works in the EU to get the ETS back on its feet.
Meanwhile, Denmark has already been making substantial progress on the climate front. According to numbers that Responding to Climate Change pulled from the Danish Energy Agency, renewable energy accounted for 43.1 percent of Denmark’s domestic electricity supply in 2012, and for 25.8 percent of all energy consumption in the country that year. The year before that, renewables provided 23.1 percent of Denmark’s electricity consumption.
In December, wind power provided the country of Denmark with about 55% of its electricity. This is the first time that the wind-leading country (or any major country) has received over 50% of its electricity from wind power in an entire month.
Of course, wind power provided well over 55% of the country’s electricity during certain periods throughout the month. On December 1, it provided ~136% of the country’s electricity needs. During the week of Christmas, it provided 68.5%.
Denmark has a target of receiving 50% of its electricity from wind power on an annual basis by 2020. It looks like the country is well on its way to achieving that. The country also has a 2050 target of getting 100% of its energy from renewable resources.
Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.
On Tuesday the world’s largest and most powerful wind turbine swung into gear at the Danish National Test Centre for Large Wind Turbines in Østerild.
The prototype V164-8.0 MW wind turbine is 720 feet tall, has 260-foot blades, and can generate 8 MegaWatts of power — enough to supply electricity for 7,500 average European households or about 3000 American households.
A joint venture between Vestas and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the turbine is slated to go into production next year and was designed to take advantage of the growing offshore wind industry across Europe.
We have now completed the production, testing, and installation of the V164-8.0 MW as planned, thanks to the team’s intense effort during a time when Vestas has reduced its investments and lowered fixed costs.
We now look forward to evaluating the turbine’s performance on site. — Anders Vedel, Chief Technology Officer, Vestas
According to the European Offshore Wind Industry, 418 offshore turbines came online last year, providing 1,567 MW of capacity. That brought the total offshore wind capacity in Europe to 6,562 MW with just over 2,000 turbines, enough to provide 0.7 percent of the EU’s electricity.
The European Offshore Wind Industry estimates that by 2020 Europe’s offshore grid should have a capacity of 40 GigaWatts and by 2030 it should have 150 GW, enough to provide 14 percent of the EU’s electricity demand.
Vestas is Europe’s second leading wind turbine manufacturer, after Siemens, a German company. As of last year Vestas had installed 27 percent of Europe’s offshore wind turbines, or 547, compared to Siemens 1,249, or 60 percent.
Here’s my latest monthly report of the “Top 10” most compelling clean energy, climate, and environment-related news stories encountered last month. These articles may have an impact on your business, your life, and the world we live in. Or, at the very least, might surprise you about what’s going on.
Over a thousand articles were reviewed across various energy platforms and 40+ were found to be of particular interest, which were sent to my private reader list. This newsletter is available upon request. The 10 most interesting to me are shown here, with a startling #1 article at the end.
10. A report from three Bay Area companies paints a positive outlook for investment in cleantech, stating that cleantech accounts for 25% of all investment capital today. Now that cleantech expectations are more in line with capabilities, many large multinational companies are stepping in as investors, both for their own energy efficiency (carbon footprint) goals as well as venture capitalist–like goals.
8. Navigant Research estimates the currently small global market for energy storage (today at $150 million) will rapidly expand to $10 billion by 2023 due to acceleration of wind and solar installs.
• California currently mandates 33% of utility power be derived from renewables and is now considering mandating energy storage as well. To address inherent intermittency, this evolving industry is seeing growing commercialization of many technologies including batteries (lithium-ion and sodium-sulphur), flywheel, molten salt, and pumped hydro storage.
7. Scientists from Potsdam Institute (PIK) forecast the planet is on path to increase global temperature 9 degrees F in a century through GHG emissions, creating a scenario of floods and droughts that would place 1 billion people at risk — 13% of the global population.
• The Asian Dev. Bank reports that, by 2035, Asia will increase its energy consumption by 67%, representing half the world’s energy demands — and half the world’s GHG emissions. The bank soberly estimates that coal will account for 83% of this growth and that CO2-emitting gasoline cars will remain dominant.
5. The Energy Information Administration reports that the US produced 3.8% less CO2 in 2012 (vs. 2011), continuing a recent downtrend of GHG emissions since 2007. Some of the main credits for the drop in emissions are considered to be a slowed down economy, power plants converting from coal to gas, increasing use of renewable energy, and an improvement in “energy intensity” — a macro energy efficiency measure of energy usage per unit of GDP.
4. A report from the UK predicts that advanced (drop-in) biofuels such as butanol will begin to play a large long-term role in reducing GHG emissions. Compared to hydrogen or electric vehicle formats, the benefit here is the fact that biofuels can be used in international combustion engines. Since internal combustion engines are expected to dominate for the foreseeable future, many argue that advanced biofuels are sorely needed.
1. In case you’re wondering about the effects of Fukushima, here’s a frighteningly well documented report about doses of cesium 137, iodine 131, and strontium 90 that have already infected wildlife all along the west coast of North America, including my favorite — wild caught Pacific salmon. This may affect human health for generations.