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Dong to Invest $795 Million in Fossil-to-Biomass Conversions, Further Denmark's Renewable Goals

Denmark has long been a renewables pioneer, and it furthered its reputation with the announcement of a bold plan: It will produce one third of its power from renewable sources by the end of the decade and 100 percent by 2050. With full government support, Denmark hopes to avoid future energy price fluctuations.

"No matter what we do, we will have an increase in the price of energy, simply because people in India and China want to have a car, want to travel," said Lykke Friis of the Danish Liberal Party to BBC News. “That is why we came out with a clear ambition to be independent of fossil fuels: so we are not vulnerable to great fluctuations in energy price."

Denmark also announced in March that it would cut its energy consumption 12 percent from 2006 numbers by 2020.

Dong Energy, Denmark’s state-controlled utility, is making strides to move this initiative forward. According to Bloomberg, Dong announced Tuesday that it plans to invest $795 million to convert three of its coal- and gas-fired plants to biomass facilities that generate heat and electricity.

Denmark already produces 70 percent of its renewable energy via biomass. Sourcing new biomass will be the largest hurdle for the conversions that total to 1 GW of capacity, said Thomas Dalsgaard, executive vice president and head of generation for Dong Energy, to Bloomberg. Dong sources about 1 million metric tons of wood pellets per year, which would double with the additional plants. It hopes to expand its procurement to other continents, including North America.

“If all goes well then we hope to decide on all the conversions in the first half of 2013 and then the construction phase will last between one to three years so that these three units will be converted by 2015,” Dalsgaard said. 

Dong also hopes to expand its renewable portfolio with bio-refineries, and it may combine one of its plants with an anaerobic digestion facility by 2015, according to Dalsgaard. It hopes to establish partnerships with waste management firms and oil companies that may be on the market for biofuels. 

"Denmark will once again be the global leader in the transition to green energy,” said Martin Lidegaard, Danish minister for climate, energy and building, in a release. “Moreover, it will create some of the jobs that we need so desperately, now and in the coming years.”

Image: MLW80 via Shutterstock

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