Denmark has a long tradition of setting ambitious national energy targets. In 2030, renewables should cover at least half of the country’s total energy consumption. By 2050, Denmark aims to be a low-carbon society independent of fossil fuels. The country is moving convincingly to meet these world-leading targets.
The International Energy Agency’s latest review of Denmark’s energy policies focuses on two interrelated issues: how to integrate increasing volumes of variable renewable energy in the power system beyond its current share of 45%, and how to decarbonise the heating sector.
Electricity generation in Denmark has changed fundamentally over the past two decades. Coal generation has been vastly eroded, and the bulk of power generation now comes from wind and bioenergy. Supported by a flexible domestic power system and a high level of interconnection, Denmark is now widely recognised as a global leader in integrating variable renewable energy while at the same time maintaining a highly reliable and secure electrical-power grid.
The heating sector is also critical for Denmark’s low-carbon ambitions. Denmark’s large-scale use of combined heat and power plants with heat storage capacity, and the increasing deployment of wind power offer great potential for efficient integration of heat and electricity systems. However, policies and regulations need to be aligned to realise that potential. Finding the right levels of energy taxation is particularly important.
Denmark has successfully decoupled its economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to a combination of energy efficiency improvements, and fuel switching to renewables. As in all countries, more needs to be done to limit emissions from transport.