Denmark is known for being a world leader in wind electricity. But there's so much more to the country's renewable energy sector that deserves attention.
A recent package of targets passed by the Danish parliament illustrates why diversity is key to a strong clean energy policy.
This week, lawmakers in Denmark agreed upon a new set promotion programs for efficiency and renewable energy that will put the country on a path to getting 100 percent of electricity, heat and fuels from renewable resources by 2050.
With a 50 percent wind penetration target, Denmark is still putting a lot of stock in wind. But the recent package is notable for its comprehensive approach to combined heat and power, biogas, geothermal heat pumps, and biofuels — with strong national financing mechanisms to tie all of these sectors together.
Of course, any good clean energy policy should aggressively promote efficiency. With a target for reducing final energy consumption 7% in 2020 compared with 2010 levels, Denmark is putting conservation and efficiency at the top of its priority list. Here are some of the initiatives just agreed upon:
The focus on industrial heating and cooling is also a major part of the plan. Here in the U.S., we tend to focus all our attention on electricity generation and almost no attention on thermal energy. But like other European nations, Denmark is ahead of the curve in encouraging changes in this sector. The plan includes:
The plan also focuses on industrial activities, using incentives and enforcement mechanisms to get large companies to make changes in their energy use:
Incentives for biogas expansion, a national framework for a smart grid, and a renewed commitment to R&D for innovative energy technologies are part of the targets as well. This is about as “comprehensive” as a comprehensive clean energy plan gets.
Here in the U.S., we tend to focus exclusively on wind and solar. Considering that these are the two fastest-growing clean energy industries globally, that makes sense. But wind and solar are only one piece of a truly meaningful energy transition.
When we get serious about clean energy in this country, we may want to take a page from Denmark’s “all of the above” clean energy playbook and focus on under-served sectors that can have a major impact on energy use.
This article was originally published on Climate Progress and was republished with permission.
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