Wind Leader Denmark Hits 33% Of Electricity

Denmark was already the world leader in wind power, with wind providing 30 percent of its electricity in 2012. Now it’s getting an even higher percentage of its juice from big, tall, spinning turbines. reports that in 2013, wind generation was 33.2 percent of the country’s electricity consumption. December was an especially fruitful month for wind in Denmark – as it was in the U.K., you might recall. “In December, wind power for the first time reached a level corresponding to more than half of electricity consumption (54.8 percent),” the Danish energy infrastructure and information company reported.

denmark wind power

The Anholt offshore wind farm (image via Siemens)

Denmark increased its wind energy generation – from 10.3 billion kilowatt-hours in 2012 to 11.1 billion kWh in 2013 – despite there being less wind in 2013, December excepted. The country made up for the less gusty conditions with more installed capacity. The 400-megawatt Anholt offshore wind farm in the Kattegat went online, helping boost total installed capacity to 4,792 MW compared to 4,166 MW in 2012.

With its high wind penetration, Denmark is becoming something of a test case, a country being watch by others to see how it pulls it off. It is a big challenge – there have been instances when the fast-spinning turbines were delivering more energy than the country needed, forcing it to unload the power elsewhere at a loss (although wind advocates argue that overall, the country comes out ahead in its importing and exporting of energy). But the Danes are confident that they can meet the challenge by building the world’s smartest grid, by wider integration with other European nations to balance supply and demand and by electrifying the transportation sector.

In addition to sourcing 50 percent of its electricity from wind by 2020, Denmark wants to see 35 percent of its total energy coming from renewables by then. The company aims to be powered 100 percent by renewable sources by 2050.

Our predominantly American readership might be interested to know how Denmark’s wind sector compares with that in the U.S. The U.S. has much more installed capacity, at around 60,000 MW, but of course that capacity feeds power to a much larger population (315 million vs. 5.6 million). While wind provides about a third of Denmark’s electricity, in the U.S. it provides about one-tenth as much, proprotionately – around 3.5 percent.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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