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Is 100% Renewable Energy Possible? Ask the Danes.

Tom Hackney
Friday, March 11, 2016

As I outlined last week in my article, Fun with Numbers: Shaking the Fossil Fuel Addiction, four-fifths of BC’s energy needs are currently met by fossil fuel energy.

So moving to a renewable energy system would be a huge change. Is it a crazy dream? Can we get a reality check?

 

Introducing Energy Strategy 2050, Denmark’s transition plan to a “fossil fuel independent society”.

 

Denmark is similar to BC in population and size of economy: 5.6 million people and a gross domestic product of $445 billion, compared to our 4.6 million and $237 of GDP, although we lead in energy use, using 1,100 petajoules (PJ) per year against the Dane’s 740 PJ.

In their attitude toward climate change and clean energy transition, the Danes are matter-of-factly revolutionary:
 

Our lifestyle has in the past been driven by cheap and easy access to oil, coal and natural gas. That road is not an option which will be open to us in the future. … The Danish government having seen the writing on the wall has set an ambitious target of weaning Denmark off fossil fuels by 2050.
 

… But of course such a strategy would come at a great cost to Danish society? The answer is a resounding no. … The government’s estimates are a price tag of approximately 10 euro per household per month …  Source here.
 

Finally, the strategy will bolster Danish growth and wealth. The transition will strengthen companies’ opportunities for innovation and demonstration of new green solutions. This will improve the opportunities of Danish companies in a rapidly growing global market for energy solutions.      Read the full article here.

 

How do they do it?

 

First, Energy Strategy 2050 is a bold and committed plan. It shows a strong government commitment to action, including legislation, support for technology development and cooperation with other jurisdictions. It lays out the facts and a mostly clear path to achieving the goals (recognizing some needs for technologies as yet undeveloped).
 

The key elements are:

  • Improving the overall efficiency of energy use by 50%, including halving the energy use to heat homes,
  • Increased generation from wind,
  • Electrification of heating, industry and transport,
  • Increased use of biofuels, including a 10% biofuel standard for transport,
  • Matching times of energy use more closely with times of renewable energy generation
     

Denmark plans to keep growing and increase the energy services it receives, while reducing the amount of energy it consumes. In the benchmark year of 2009, the Danes used 740 PJ of energy, of which 600 PJ came from oil, coal and gas. By the milestone year of 2020, the measures in Energy Strategy 2050 would reduce energy use to 700 PJ, of which 480 PJ would be fossil based.

What’s the biggest challenge? Cutting fossil fuels from transport: “A technology shift from oil-based transport to non-fossil alternatives is the challenge that will have to be dealt with in the next decades [after 2025].”

Meanwhile, here in BC, the government has committed to updating its 2008 Climate Action Plan. The independent Climate Leadership Team released its Recommendations to Government last November, calling for measures that would put BC in about the same league as the Danes. So here is our big reminder to our readers: You have until 25 March to comment on the recommendations and show the Government your support for climate action and renewable energy. Click here to give your input!