Nature

Denmark Broke its Own World Record for Wind Power Generation in 2015

January 22, 2016 | Joanne Kennell

Windmills at the windmill farm Middelgrunden, outside of Copenhagen
Photo credit: Andreas Klinke Johannsen/Flickr (CC BY-SA 3.0)

And two of its major wind farms were offline for three months!

Denmark has done it again!  They broke the world record for the most electricity generated by wind power.  Yes, the previous record held was also theirs, nevertheless it is still an amazing achievement.

In 2014, Denmark generated 39.1 percent of its energy from wind turbines, and in 2015 that number jumped to 42 percent.  The government now has its sights set on the Paris Climate Summit commitment and aims to produce half of all of its electricity from wind by 2020.

Amazingly, there were many times that regions in west Denmark produced more wind energy than they consumed — a remarkable 60 days of the year.  For example, on one very windy day in July, the country produced 140 percent of its electricity demands from the turbines, which it then sold the excess to Germany, Norway and Sweden.

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Then, on September 2, Denmark operated without switching on any central power stations (coal and biomass).  Instead, they relied on wind power and renewable energy bought from surrounding countries.

And they did all of this even though two of their major wind farms were offline for three months of the year due to cable faults.  So if Denmark can do it, why can’t we?

“Hopefully, Denmark can serve as an example to other countries that it is possible to have both ambitious green policies with a high proportion of wind energy and other renewables in the energy supply, and still have a high security of supply and competitive prices on electricity,” Lars Christian Lilleholt, the country's minister for energy, utilities and climate, told The Guardian.

Although the success for Denmark in 2015 was largely because it was a really, really windy year, it does not underscore how the wind power generated in the country has gone up every year since 2008, even in years with normal wind conditions — such as 2014.

So if 42 percent of the country's electricity came from wind power, does that mean that every single home in Denmark was running on wind power every single day?  Not exactly.

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Energinet explains that energy is constantly being traded between countries.  Germany, Sweden, and Norway buy Denmark's wind power, and Denmark buys back nuclear power from Sweden, solar power from Germany, and hydropower from Norway.  This trading system allows the countries to provide continuous, and reliable power.

Most of Denmark’s wind turbines are located in the west, so in western Denmark, 55 percent of the electricity was generated by wind power, while only 23 percent was in the east.  However, the country continues to build more wind turbines, and with every new turbine constructed they are one step closer to reaching their 2020 goal.

Countries could learn a thing or two from Denmark, don’t you think?

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