BLOWN AWAY

Denmark produces 40% of its power from wind—more than any other country on earth

Obsession
Energy Shocks
Obsession
Energy Shocks

Someday, Denmark says it will get all of its energy from renewable sources. In the meantime, it is well on its way to hitting an interim goal of 50% renewable power by 2020. Last year, wind power accounted for just over 39% of the country’s energy, on average, according to Denmark’s grid operator (link in Danish). That was a world record, well ahead of other heavy wind users.

In fact, last January the country produced more than 60% of its energy from wind. Over the past decade, Denmark’s share of power generated by wind has roughly doubled:

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Denmark has not been shy in subsidizing new, expensive technologies to turn wind into power—Vestas, a leading turbine manufacturer, is based in the country. Wind is an obvious renewable choice for the Scandinavian country, given its short winter days without much sunshine, flat terrain, and long windswept coastlines.

Other countries are also touting their wind abilities. Over a quarter of UK homes were powered by wind in 2014, according to Renewable UK, an industry body. That was an all-time high, and a 15% increase from the previous year. The UK is particularly strong in offshore wind, with three times the capacity of Denmark, its nearest rival.

In absolute terms, Denmark (population 5 million) is a small player in the wind-power scene, even if it is a world leader relative to its size. Neighboring Germany, for example, has seven times the wind capacity of Denmark, although this accounts for less than 10% of its power usage.

The real star, in terms of wind capacity growth, is China, which has boosted its wind capacity by an annual average of nearly 50% over the past 5 years. But unlike in Denmark, which trades the surplus wind power it can’t immediately use or store with neighboring countries, more than a quarter of Chinese wind capacity isn’t even connected to the grid yet.

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