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Ten Reasons Denmark is a Climate Leader

Denmark is similar in population and geographic area to Colorado; despite its size it has become a global clean energy leader. SEPA and a select group of U.S. energy executives traveled to Denmark to see climate mitigation in action. This country is doing it right.

  1. Denmark has always been ahead of the curve.
    Denmark’s clean energy history began more than half a century ago. In 1971, Denmark became the first nation in the world to establish a Ministry of Environment. Denmark’s first investments in wind energy were part of an effort to improve energy security following the 1973 oil crisis – and they have continued ever since. View from under a bridge looking at row houses, docked boats, a rail and treesBridges in Copenhagen’s canals
  2. Binding climate policy creates accountability.
    Today, climate action is literally written into Danish law. Denmark’s 2019 Climate Act includes a national mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% (based on a 1990 baseline) by 2030 and achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2045. When it comes to climate, the Danes have wasted no time, and the country is on track to reaching its goals. Copenhagen Harbor
  3. Collaboration levels up progress.
    The Danish government and companies share ideas and data, forming partnerships to maximize their efforts to work toward a low-carbon society. This is clear at GreenLab, a public-private partnership between policymakers, utilities, companies, and academic entities that is home to the “world’s first truly green symbiosis.” The Danish government also has developed 14 climate-related industry partnerships encompassing areas from transportation to agriculture to manufacturing. An inside look at GreenLab.
  4. Data sharing helps everyone.
    A company called Energinet operates DataHub, an open-source data-sharing platform which stores all Danish consumer electricity consumption and price data while handling communications between electricity market participants. All electricity suppliers have access to the data, and consumers can access their own data through an Energinet-operated website or their electricity supplier’s website. An Energinet presentation
  5. Bikes are the way to get around.
    The Danish government taxes cars heavily, and biking is extremely common with over 7,500 miles of bike lanes available for green, safe commuting. More than 50% of Copenhageners cycle to and from work every day. Choosing a bike over a car just once a day reduces the average person’s carbon emissions from transportation by 67%. Cyclists in Copenhagen
  6. Danes are efficient.
    A key aspect of Denmark’s strategy to reduce emissions involves using less energy in the first place. Highly efficient combined heat and power is a common energy source in Denmark, providing half of the nation’s electricity and two thirds of the nation’s heat. The Danish Energy Agency launched a campaign focused on reducing household energy use in July 2022 in response to the European gas shortage – 60% of Danes were already motivated to reduce their energy use. Outside the Energinet Headquarters in Fredericia
  7. Clean energy is fun.
    In Copenhagen, a waste-to-energy plant called CopenHill converts 440,000 tons of waste into clean energy each year providing electricity and district heating to 150,000 homes. There are also plans in the works toward making the plant carbon neutral through the addition of carbon capture to the facility. This waste to energy plant is also a local attraction that is home to a 1,480 feet artificial ski slope, hiking trail, cafe, and the tallest rock-climbing wall in the world. CopenHill seen from a distance
  8. Energy islands increase offshore wind potential.
    Denmark is developing energy islands as part of its strategy for reaching aggressive clean energy goals. Energy islands gather electricity from nearby offshore wind farms and function as clean energy hubs that can distribute electricity to the Danish electricity grid as well as to other countries. This makes it possible to place wind turbines further from the coast and to distribute power more efficiently. The energy islands currently slated for construction have a capacity of up to 10 GW. The magnitude of potential offshore wind capacity offered by energy islands could help secure Denmark as a major player in the export of excess offshore wind energy.Wind turbines seen from Copenhagen Harbor
  9. Green hydrogen provides a solution for difficult-to-decarbonize sectors.
    Denmark’s Green Hydrogen Hub has set ambitious targets for generating 200 GW hours of hydrogen capacity by 2025 and 400 gigawatt hours (GWh) of hydrogen capacity by 2030. Among other uses, green hydrogen has potential as a shipping and aviation fuel. The Green Hydrogen Hub’s long-term plan is for Denmark to become an exporter that can provide other European countries with a clean fuel source. If brought to scale successfully, green hydrogen could play a key role in the carbon-free transition for some of the most difficult-to-decarbonize sectors of the economy. The Aarhus Harbour
  10. Denmark functions as a global R&D hub. 
    With everything from green hydrogen, to energy islands, to pairing clean energy generation with outdoor recreation, the Danes are diving in on climate action. Collaboration between the government and the private sector is accelerating the clean energy transition. Danish companies, non-profits, and government agencies are testing out new climate solutions without fear of failure and providing valuable lessons for the rest of the world. The sun setting (after 10pm) in Aarhus, Denmark

Visit sepapower.org to stay tuned for more lessons learned from the Executive Fact Finding Mission in Denmark.