By Dia Ascenzi
Last year, Denmark broke the world record for generated wind power. For the year of 2015, 42% of Denmark’s electricity was produced from wind turbines alone. The previous year, they produced 39%, which itself was the world record at the time. The country generated so much power from wind energy that even after meeting their own domestic energy demands, they had enough power left over to export some to Norway, Germany, and Sweden. To be fair, last year was a significantly windy year for Denmark, but this is serving as a real eye-opener regarding the value of wind energy.
On September 2, 2015, Denmark was able to operate fully powered by wind and solar power, local power plants, and neighboring exports. This means they did not have to use any central power stations, which were not turned on at all that day. The country proved that it is indeed possible to produce massive amounts of electricity from wind energy. Denmark’s goal is to regularly produce half of all of their electricity using wind energy by 2020, and to be completely off of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas by 2050. “These figures show that we are now at a level where wind integration can be the backbone of electricity systems in advanced economies,” says Kristian Ruby, chief policy officer of the European Wind Energy Association.
A large part of what made this possible is Denmark’s growth of wind power capacity, specifically in the increased installation of wind farms. Energinet.dk, Denmark’s power grid operator, is able to handle a massive amount of harnessed energy and effectively move it around to satisfy supply and demand. It is because of this that so much energy can be easily harnessed from wind turbines, and power can be imported and exported between neighboring countries. Despite budget cuts in Denmark’s green energy department, they are still very much in the lead with green and clean energy production.
With a surplus of power supplied by wind energy, Denmark has found their solution for energy production, and can also benefit from selling energy to neighboring countries, as they have in the past. These countries in turn benefit from Denmark’s surplus of energy. This new record proves that many countries underestimate how beneficial wind energy can be. They are setting a great example for other fuel-dependent countries to embrace the sheer potential of wind energy, and all green energy, for that matter.
Since this impressive accomplishment in wind energy production, other countries have begun to show similar action. Germany has taken the lead in offshore wind energy growth in Europe, jumping ahead of the UK. The UK, however, has not been idle, and has projected that they will have too much electricity this summer, thanks to wind energy among other factors. This is causing slight complications with how to manage an excess of electricity, and will likely result in them having to pay power plants to switch off during times of low energy demand, or when they are unable to effectively transport excess electricity. Even with these complications, having too much electricity through use of green energy is a heck of a lot better than not having enough, and still having to resort to the burning of fossil fuels. Furthermore, they may want to take a page out of Denmark’s book in how to effectively channel this electricity around to avoid wasting energy. The European Wind Energy Association has even rebranded themselves as WindEurope, in recognition of the industry’s growth in the past few decades.
These exciting new steps in wind energy production may be directly linked to Denmark’s leading example, or maybe these countries are just becoming equally aware of the value of wind power. Either way, you can expect this growth in the use of green energy to urge more countries to follow suit.