This really should have been front page news around the world – or, at the very least, across Europe. Bloggers, including Cornelia Daniel on ecoquent-positions and Andreas Kühl on energynet.de, have already reported this important piece of news on the energy transition in Europe. Mainstream media, it would appear, didn’t get the memo.
As of the 1st of January 2013, the installation of oil-fired boilers and natural gas heating is banned in new buildings in Denmark. Starting 2016, the Danes will also ban the installation of new oil-fired boilers in existing buildings in areas where district heating or natural gas is available. This conversion of heating systems is supported by the Danish government with 42 million DKK (5.6 million Euro) from 2012 to 2015.
Why is this breaking news? Well, the Danes are taking serious action while other countries – including the declared front runner Germany – are still mired in debates on the costs of the energy transition and the risk of actually removing fossil fuel-based infrastructure.
Policies are necessary to set parameters for and foster the energy transition. The Danish political framework shows that a combination of ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ is the most promising strategy to achieve 100% renewable energies in the near future. By implementing a coherent regulatory framework the Danish government shows leadership and provides investment security for the private sector.
The law on “banning installation of oil fired boilers and natural gas heating” was approved in March 2012 as part of an Energy Agreement. The agreement was an important step towards delivering on the political goal that Denmark’s entire energy supply (electricity, heating, industry and transport) is covered by renewable energy by 2050. By 2020 the Danes aim to reduce the use of fossil fuels by 33 percent. With this Energy Agreement the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building succeeded in securing broad political commitment to an ambitious green transition that focuses on energy savings throughout society and promotes renewable energy in all sectors.
Denmark is the first country to have such an ambitious plan and strives for a consistent energy policy. The Danes understand that the heat sector is a crucial pillar for an energy transition where most costs are saved and major contributions are made for climate protection. In the Energy Agreement from last March the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building claims that “initiatives in the agreement will create green growth and employment in the next decade, while also preserving the competitiveness of traditional enterprises.” Oil and gas are increasingly expensive and have a significant share of CO2 emissions especially in buildings.
What, if not this legislation, is worth communicating around the world? Denmark seems to be one of the few countries that does not just talk the talk and build up renewable capacity, but actually removes the old infrastructure of fossil fuels.