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Denmark & Wind Power

January 25, 2016

By Paul Homewood  


Offshore Wind Energy Efforts Lagging in the Old Dominion | WVTF



We have had some discussion about the amount of wind power being generated in Denmark, which hit 41% of total electricity in 2014. Denmark is often held up by proponents of wind power to prove that large amounts are both feasible and can be easily integrated into national grid systems.

It is therefore worth putting the figures into perspective.

The first thing to notice is just how small the Danish generation figures actually are, in comparison with the UK and Germany. For instance, output from wind in Denmark was 13.2 TWh, compared to 31.6 TWh in the UK





It is immediately apparent from these figures that Danish wind output can easily be absorbed into the German grid. In addition, a lot of Denmark’s electricity is exported to Scandinavia, where it can be used for pump storage.

And on the reverse side, it is not a problem for Denmark to import the small amounts of power it needs from Germany and Scandinavia, when the wind stops blowing.

Making this system work on a much bigger scale however would be a totally different problem.  


The Danish example is in fact comparable to the situation in Scotland, where wind power accounts for 24%. Again we see that the amount of wind power generated in Scotland is dwarfed by total demand in the rest of the UK, where any surplus can easily be sent.





Just because a high proportion of wind power can be managed on a small scale, and as part of a much bigger grid system, does not mean it could be at the UK level.

  1. Ben Vorlich permalink
    January 25, 2016 1:36 pm

    There’s a nice little grid monitor for Denmark at
    Apart from Vindmoller I’m not sure what the categories are exactly, currently wind is just less than 30% of demand.

  2. Alex Henney permalink
    January 25, 2016 1:41 pm

    Denmark is dependent on Norwegian and Swedish hydro to balance wind variability

  3. BLACK PEARL permalink
    January 25, 2016 2:06 pm

    Just a thought ….
    Seeing the picture of those Turbines out at sea, was just wondering if there could be any acoustic resonance from them being transferred via the supports into the relatively shallow North Sea that could effect whales etc that is currently in the news ?

    Anyone ever checked this out ?
    Would be a ‘bombshell’ to the Prince & environmentalists, as Clarkson would say, if it was….

  4. January 25, 2016 2:33 pm

    Interestingly, the current Liberal (Venstre) government in Denmark has had enough of the costs of wind power.

    They are slashing renewables programmes and targets. The cuts are in response to a widening budget deficit and seek to save at least DKr340 million for the period to the next parliamentary election in 2019.

    To achieve this level of saving, numbers of climate change projects are to be ended or cut back. It is also proposed to abandon many of the targets which have driven policy to date, most notably: a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020, the production of 100% of energy from renewables by 2050 and the phasing out of all coal-fired power stations.

    See this Sept. 2015 (English) interview on Bloomberg:

    The Centre-Right government in Finland propose setting a November 2017 deadline for granting subsidies to wind power plants as applications exceeded a previously set capacity limit.

    In Norway, energy conglomerate Statkraft has announced that it is to halt new investment in offshore projects as part of an “adjusted” investment strategy.

    Statkraft has been a major player in UK offshore projects.

    Statkraft abandoned 1GW of planned onshore wind investment in Norway in 2014 as “uneconomic”.

  5. martinbrumby permalink
    January 25, 2016 3:27 pm

    Meanwhile, proving the Britannia Waives The Rules, we are still marching to the promised land.
    shows that the annual turnover of the “decarbonisation” industry in 2014 had already reached £121.7 Billion.

    But does this include (for example) the costs of unpredictable electricity production, necessitating standby provision from coal / gas plant forced to work inefficiently and with a skilled workforce never knowing if they will be needed or not?

    Or the cost of the aluminium, cement and much of the steel industry forced offshore to countries that care a shit neither about “low carbon” or even pollution?

    Does it include the direct and indirect costs of the deliberate destruction of the coal industry?

    Does it include the costs of an Academia stuffed with those whose ability to attract grant funding is contingent on their finding yet more reasons (allegedly) to “Decarbonise” the economy?

    Does it include the costs of having countless NGOs (WWF, Greenpeace, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, etc.) whose business model is to promote scary stories and hoover up donations from little old ladies but, more importantly, mega-donations from the ‘concerned’ super rich; not to mention the huge flows of funding directly from the EU and HMG?

    What did Deep Throat say?

    Follow the money!

  6. January 25, 2016 5:04 pm

    This constant denigration of “alternative” energy sources smacks of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

    What does it matter that solar and wind power are being developed as we use the last of fossil fuels? Seems a sensible, gradual transition, rather than either fanatical resistance to any change, or alarmist insistence to “keep it in the ground.”

    Better that we celebrate countries such as Denmark with a small energy demand, rather than declaiming their inability to power up to a larger scale.

    • January 25, 2016 8:06 pm

      Fossil fuels have in fact got many more years left in them

      What I object to is an energy source that needs massive subsidies and still needs fossil fuel back up

      The real answer lies elsewhere.

      You also totally misunderstand Denmark’s situation. Put simply, it could not survive on its own with current arrangements, any more than we could. Wind works for them, albeit in an extremely expensive fashion, because its surplus can be exported to big countries, and it can import when the wind stops blowing.
      As such, Denmark is an utter irrelevance.

    • Gerard permalink
      January 25, 2016 9:11 pm

      What ‘last of fossil fuels?’ Why not use nuclear if this is really a problem rather than an imagined one?

    • catweazle666 permalink
      January 25, 2016 9:18 pm

      ” as we use the last of fossil fuels?”

      Not even close.

      There are centuries more oil now we have mastered “tight” oil extraction, even more coal – trillions of tons off the North-East coast of the UK alone via in-situ gasification and an unimaginable amount of ocean bed methane – of which the Japanese have completed a successful pilot extraction.

      We have fossil fuels for millennia yet.

      • January 25, 2016 11:38 pm

        You are far too optimistic. And the issue is not about running out. It is about the rate of extraction and its cost (which leaps as growing demand and shrinking supply sets in).
        As a concrete example, the estimated TRR (technically recoverable reserve at any price using any existing texhnology) of all US oil shales is ~15Bbbl (revised down from about 28 since the folded, faulted Monterey shale cannot be horizontally drilled. There is nothing geologically ‘horizontal’.
        Simple calc. In 2014 (before the Saudi price war on US shale) US net imports of crude oil were 5.07mbpd. 1.85Bbbl/yr. At that rate, the US would consume ALL of its recoverable shale oil–no matter the price– in 8 years or by 2024.
        By comparison, the remaining reserves in Saudi’s Ghawar field (largest and most prolific in the world) were estimated at 65Bbbl in 2010 when Saudis finished reworking the southernmost Harrahd section for waterflood EOR. Watercut is now 50%. IF the Saudis keep reducing its annual oil production to minimize rising watercut and maximize the total oil that will ever be extracted from Ghawar, then they themselves estimate Ghawar will not be exhausted until about 2035. That should scare the bejesus out of you!
        Ghawar by itself was 6.1% of total world crude oil production in 2012.
        Look up watercut. Or, read my ebooks on this. Recommended are Gaia’s Limits chapters one, four and five, plus the first few energy essays of Blowing Smoke. Even illustrated the Monterey shale geology problem where it outcrops, in essay Reserve Reservations.
        Hoping something does not make it true.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 27, 2016 7:35 pm

        ristvan: “You are far too optimistic.”

        Oh, I doubt it, I’m an engineer, you see.

        I’ve been reading this Peak Oil/fossil fuel/whatever ever since the 1950s, all backed up with figures from august experts quoting TRR and all sorts of other clever-clever metrics, oil to run out by the 1960s/70s/80s/90s/etc. etc. etc. and sure enough, none of it came to pass, and I have seen reference to Peak Oil from the mid-19th century when Scotland was the World’s premier petroleum producer and exporter. Every time some engineers came along, put their brains into gear and did stuff, and behold, it was postponed yet again…and again…and again…

        In any case, it’s irrelevant, as long before it becomes an existential problem us engineers will have come up with some cheaper, more efficient energy source anyway.

        “Hoping something does not make it true.”

        Nor does writing books about it.

    • Ex-expat Colin permalink
      January 26, 2016 8:57 am

      As I understood it the Danes export their surplus renewable at a low unit cost. Asking it for it back is rather costly. Don’t know the figures but I believe such data was put to a US senate committee some years back by Dane experts on the subject.

      Taxi drivers in Copenhagen told me about garden/domestic fights over small windmill noise.

  7. January 25, 2016 5:45 pm

    Percentages are ratios of 2 numbers, and high percentages for renewables always come about from being a percentage of something very small.

    Danes don’t use much electricity for 2 reasons, firstly that it is very expensive (no prizes for guessing why), and secondly because they have extensive district heating and hot water systems, and have laws designed to limit electricity use for heating.

    Greenies are very fond of promoting district heating, but not so fond of mentioning the fossil fuels that provide the heat.

  8. January 25, 2016 6:03 pm

    Reblogged this on Patti Kellar.

  9. ralfellis permalink
    January 25, 2016 6:39 pm

    Danish wind energy.

    The Danish wind report I highlighted previously, indicated that most of the Danish wind electricity was exported via interconnectors.

    Click to access CIEN.158.2.66.pdf

    This still appears to be happening. The export figures for 2014 electrical exports to Scandinavia and Germany are: (proportion of wind generation)

    Q1 74%. Q2 87%. Q3 83%. Q4 66%.

    This is presuming that wind over-production is the main reason for exporting electricity. Since the report does not include a “wind production vs interconnector flow” graph, this is an assumption but a likely one. (See the report below.)

    It has been claimed that these energy flows merely represent the storage of electricity, by using Nordic hydro as a storage medium (most of the inflows come back from Scandinavia). However, if Denmark is exporting when wind is plentiful you can bet that the spot-price for electricity will be at a minimum. So this storage system involves: exporting energy cheaply, and buying back at a much higher cost.

    That does not sound like good economics to me. And I think we can see the scale of the economic losses, by comparing the export and import figures. Exports are much larger than imports, and may represent the financial cost of this hydro ‘storage’.

    Wind Power.

    While the quoted renewable electrical generation factor in the pdf report is high, much of this is biomass. The 2014 figures are:

    Renewables 46% of electrical generation.
    Of this, Wind and solar 34%, and biomass 12%.

    But when you take all energy usage into consideration, much of which is for heating and transport, the share taken by renewables and wind shrinks considerably.

    Renewables 20% of total energy usage.
    Of this, Wind and solar 6%, and biomass 14%.
    And 50% of that biomass is imported.

    So if Denmark wants to go fully renewable, including heating and transport and all the other usages, it still has a long way to go. This is what proponents of electric cars often fail to realise – that total electrical generation must double to account for transport usage.

    Click to access energystatistics2013.pdf


  10. Gerard permalink
    January 25, 2016 9:15 pm

    We have a similar problem in Australia where the state of South Australia has a high proportion of wind energy (and correspondingly high electricity costs pushing industry out) but can rely on an inter-connector to Victoria when the wind does not blow. Baseload power in Victoria is provided by brown coal.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      January 25, 2016 9:53 pm

      But when Pt. Augusta (coal fired) closes in March because the interruptions by surges in wind have made it uneconomic, and the scheduled reductions are made in CCGT capacity, then we will be left with wind, solar (a minor amount of OCGT) and the inter-connector.
      (Actually there are 2 inter-connectors, the small one to the River towns).

      The inter-connector for 90% of the population can supply no more than 23% of peak demand. Imagine what will happen next summer if there is a hot, humid night with no wind.
      Personally I am pricing generators, although regulations make it practically impossible to switch power supplies, so am concentrating on keeping just an air conditioner going.

  11. Paul2 permalink
    January 25, 2016 10:03 pm

    The whales which beached themselves only the other day ended up at a place called Hunstanton. So, as you do, I typed in Hunstanton wind farm. I thought it a bit of a long shot but came across this:

    Skegness Wind Farm from Hunstanton

    • BLACK PEARL permalink
      January 26, 2016 12:37 am

      Just watched the late Sky news and they mentioned ‘man made’ resonances, with pictures of ships etc.
      Isn’t there quite a lot of wind farms both sides of the North Sea where the whales are beaching ?

    • January 27, 2016 2:00 pm

      Mate,you should have pointed out that Dellers used a dramatic headline and then made a clarification at the bottom
      The prof released a correction saying a press release had been wrong..(More detail
      The prof Ian Boyd is now Defra chief scientist since 2012

      One of the other scientists on the paper Peter Tyack had the year before done a Whale vs wind turbine literature review
      concluding :” The noise impact on marine mammals is more severe during the construction of wind farms than during their operation.”

      : “Both the literature and modeling show that pile-driving and other activities that generate intense impulses during construction are likely to disrupt the behavior of marine mammals at ranges of many kilometers, and that these activities have the potential to induce hearing impairment at close range.
      The reported noise levels from operating wind turbines are low, and are unlikely to impair hearing in marine mammals. ‘

  12. Paul2 permalink
    January 26, 2016 8:37 am

    Once Pravda put their spin on it……….

  13. David Richardson permalink
    January 26, 2016 12:04 pm

    Every now and then I return to the advice of a real engineer.

    Wise words from 2011 – totally ignored of course.

  14. Keith Gugan permalink
    January 27, 2016 4:04 pm

    Paul, you’ve probably seen this. Not sure it all stacks up.

    Keith Gguan

  15. January 31, 2016 11:35 am

    The marine environment of North Sea and Baltic is one of the most heavily strained by numerous human activities. Simultaneously water and air temperatures increase more than elsewhere in Europe and globally, which cannot be explained with ‘global warming’. I just wonder how many “green fans” heard about the effect of stirring, presented here: Warm water will come to the surface and the heat will supply the atmosphere with warmth. The air will become warmer and the winters will be milder. So…. offshore wind farms (and not only) may have an influence over climate….
    On the other hand, I’m amazed by the idea of these enormous blades coming from the US – They may cause more damage to the nature than bring benefits. I’m just saying that wind power could be an answer to some of our questions referring to electricity, but first we should be sure on how it works and which are the side effects.

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