Denmark's Turbines Capture Winds of Change in Energy Industry
To many nations, having numerous fields of wind turbines seems like a far-off green dream. Denmark, however, has made it into a reality. The Danes are now essentially energy independent, and wind power plays a major role. In 2007, wind power provided nearly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity production and 24 percent of its capacity; proportions nearly double that of the next highest country. The Danish company Vestas has emerged as the top manufacturer in the world of these wind turbines, which are in high demand. Executive Erik Therkelsen says, "If we can make a turbine, it's sold." So what does this mean for the energy industry?
Global business trends for 2009 indicate a shift to greener, cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy. Since green is in, it is Denmark’s job to help the rest of the world catch up. Denmark has gotten more efficiency out of their electricity than any other member of the EU, or for that matter the world as a whole. The nation’s carbon emissions are down by 13.3% from their 1990 levels, and the total energy consumption of the Danish population has more or less held steady since then. Denmark didn’t become green because of environmental concerns, but rather from fear of lack of energy due to the 1973 oil crisis. With gas prices again on the rise, expect to see more calls for shifts to alternative energy sources.
So how can lessons from Denmark help other countries trying to go green? Well, for one, they can share their government policies. When countries like the U.S. forgot about green power following the oil crisis and let tax credits for renewable energy sources wax and wane, Denmark looked to the long term, and enacted policies which would ensure that the green revolution continued, such as introducing tariffs which required utilities to offer 10-year fixed-rate contracts for wind power. Policies like these helped companies such as Vestas build up and hone their technology in order to create an effective, practical, clean green product. These policies, combined with the fact that Denmark has improved its use of combined heat and power through a form of recycling, and what you have is a country that can serve as a template towards greener shifts in policy. Other countries and even companies can use the lessons learned in Denmark as a foundation to harness gusty winds of change in the energy industry.