Renewable energy

Renewable energy – a term that is one of the great buzzwords of the time, and which over the years has gained more and more on the political agenda. But what does the term actually cover up and why is it important to know about? We'll give you the answer to that.

Distribution of energy sources

Renewable energy: An important key to a greener future

Renewable energy – a term that is one of the great buzzwords of the time, and which over the years has gained more and more on the political agenda. But what does the term actually cover up and why is it important to know about? We'll give you the answer to that.

Green energy, climate-friendly energy, sustainable energy and renewable energy – few are now familiar with one or more of these terms, especially after they have become some of the most important on the green agenda and political agenda, both nationally and globally.

Renewable energy has gradually become an essential technology for reducing the world's CO2 emissions, as the production of power from wind, solar, water and waves can significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Indeed, it is so essential that it is an important key to the solution to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees.

Thus, back in 2015, 196 member states of the UN Climate Convention entered into a legally binding climate agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and around the world there is ongoing work to prioritize the green transition with a focus on saving energy throughout society and getting more renewable energy in the form of more wind turbines, solar panels and more biogas.

Here at home too, renewable energy sources are given priority, and both the government and companies across the country set ongoing targets for the climate and the green transition.

But what is renewable energy really if you have to try to translate it into something a little more tangible? First, let's take a look at the story behind it.

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From oil crisis to renewable energy solutions

Back in 1973, the so-called Energy Crisis arose when Arab oil producers chose to soar the prices of oil and stopped oil exports to, among other things, The Hague. Netherlands and usa. They did so partly because western countries had expressed their support for Israel, which was at war with Syria and Egypt at the time – and Arab oil producers did not agree with that support.

As oil prices rose sharply, the same commodity accounted for 90 percent of Denmark's energy consumption, and the Arab countries' boycott therefore hit the country hard with significant price increases for heating oil and gasoline. This meant that the then government introduced a number of temporary laws such as car-free Sunday, a ban on window lighting after hours and speed restrictions across the country.

In the months that followed, danes signed off on saving energy when they got home from work, and studies from that time show that Danes generally got better at cutting energy consumption.

The importance of the crisis for Denmark led, among other things, to the need to think new, be innovative and find greener alternatives to oil, and in the years after 1973 the then government took the first tentative steps towards a greener society by seriously seeking alternative methods to ensure an efficient and safe energy supply based on renewable energies such as wind and solar energy.

Read also: What does a kWh cost

Renewable energy today

Today, renewable energy (climate-friendly energy) is an umbrella term for wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal and other technologies that are carbon-neutral and therefore distinct from fossil fuels like coal and oil.

The distribution of energy sources in Denmark

According to the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities, renewable energy is a form of energy that is extracted from renewable energy sources and is "eternal" – this means that as long as we live on earth, we will have access to selected forms of energy that are unlimited. At the same time, when we invest in renewable energy, we contribute to reducing fossil fuels such as coal and oil – i.e. reducing our use of resources that are scarce and limited and that are more environmentally damaging to our planet than the green and renewable alternatives.

Climate-friendly energy is used primarily in power generation, transport, district heating and for energy supply in hard-to-reach parts of the country. This means, for example, that you can get hot water with the help of solar energy, or you can choose to buy power from an electricity company that bases its power on renewable energy sources.

In Denmark, wind and bioenergy in particular are the renewable energies we use the most because they are best suited to our climate. Let us briefly present the two concepts:

Wind energy is when you use the wind's energy to make power. Wind turbines are used for this, and Denmark is among the world leaders when it comes to developing, producing and installing them. According to the Danish Energy Agency, Denmark has been installing wind turbines on land since the 1970s, and therefore they have grown both in number and capacity. It is the municipalities that are responsible for planning the installation of new wind turbines on land, but private individuals can also apply for grants to install a wind turbine on their own land.

Bioenergy is the energy stored in organic matter or biomass. Biomass can be burned directly or processed into different kinds of fuels, e.g. wood pellets or biogas. Unlike wind and solar energy, biomass can be stored. In 2018, biomass contributed 15.4 percent to the total electricity supply.

At home, therefore, there are several different forms of renewable energy, all of which are intended to contribute to the green transition by storing energy until it is needed.

 

Renewable energy in Denmark

At home, it is the government's ambition that by 2050 Denmark should be completely independent of fossil fuels – this means that in less than three decades we will be able to produce enough renewable energy to cover the total Danish energy consumption.

A wind turbine, one of Denmark's renewable energy sources

However, there is some way to go if we are to achieve that goal. In Denmark, renewable energy in 2019 covered 35 percent of actual energy consumption across the country – in 2017 the figure was 34.2 percent.

One of the areas where a product has so far been successfully based on more and more renewable energy is in the production of electricity. According to the Danish Energy Agency, the production of electricity based on renewable energy accounted for a whopping 67.5 percent of the total electricity supply in Denmark in 2019 – that is 7 percent more than in 2018.

This increase is primarily due to a significant increase in the production of electricity from wind turbines, where expansion of capacity and better wind conditions have positively affected production. In fact, we have such good wind conditions in Denmark that 37.5 percent of the total Danish electricity supply consisted of wind energy in 2019, making wind energy one of the most widely used forms of renewable energy in Denmark.

The fact that power from renewable energy sources and especially offshore wind has great potential in terms of reducing CO2 emissions both at home and in the rest of the world is something that has the focus of government and the big business companies.

Several consortia have thus joined the fight for a greener Denmark by helping the government achieve ambitious climate goals by, among other things, establishing offshore wind farms or so-called energy islands. An example is the energy island VindØ, which will be located 100 kilometers off the Danish coast in the North Sea, where there are optimal conditions for the production of wind energy, and it will be ready by 2030.

On the island there is also the possibility of other renewable energy solutions such as Power-to-X for storing energy. In short, Power-to-X means turning electricity into something else, such as hydrogen or synthetic gases.

 

 

Renewable energy on the world map

One thing is how we use renewable energy in Denmark, but what does it really look like if we take a look out into the wider world? According to Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, which regularly checks the statistics of member countries, the use of renewable energy looks quite positive for many countries, which helps to confirm that renewable energy (climate-friendly energy) is a global phenomenon. Below you can see a chart from Eurostat showing just that:

EU countries' distribution of climate-friendly energy

As can be seen in the chart, countries such as Croatia, Estonia and Bulgaria have already achieved their targets for the use of renewable energy by 2020 by 2019, while Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland are all some way from their goal of making use of more renewable energy. Common to all countries, however, is that renewable energy accounts for a greater or lesser degree of the total share of energy consumption.

However, as the chart also shows, there is a tendency for the Nordic countries' energy consumption in particular to be largely based on renewable and CO2-free energy. Thus, the share of renewable energy in final consumption in the Nordic countries is distributed as follows: Iceland 72 percent, Norway 71 percent, Sweden 54 percent, Finland 41 percent, Denmark 36 percent, Greenland 19 percent, and the Faroe Islands 7.5 percent.

In the Nordic countries, therefore, work is well under way to increase the share of renewable energy in energy consumption, and although Denmark is in the middle of the Nordic countries' work to promote the conversion of green energy for consumption, we are, however, the country that has had the most speed of transition. This is shown by figures from the Nordic Council of Ministers, which in 2020 published the report "State and the Nordic Region", which takes stock of developments in the region on a number of socially important parameters.

Thus, Denmark has increased by 21 percentage points since 2004, when it comes to the share of renewable energy in consumption, and here the production of electricity from renewable energy sources is a primary cause.

Renewable energy at home

Both nationally and globally, it is a priority to come up with more efficient technologies to use carbon-neutral energy for the benefit of our descendants, the environment and the economy.

But how much energy do we actually use at home in everyday life? According to a survey from Statistics Denmark, danes' energy consumption fell in 2019 for the first time since 2014, partly because we use more wind energy and that consumption of coal has decreased.

solar PV connected to smart app

At the same time, figures show that in 2019, renewable energy consumption was at its highest level ever, with 36.8 per cent of total energy production from renewables - a 4.1 per cent increase from 2018.

So there are indications that we are on the right track, but if we are to achieve our ambitious 70 percent target by 2030, we need to become even better at lowering our energy consumption – also in private.

But what can you actually do to help the green transition well on the way? A good place to start is to take a look at your power consumption, as overall it is one of the big culprits in terms of CO2 pollution worldwide.

According to the Danish Energy Agency, an average dancer uses 1,600 kWh of power per year. However, it is possible to cut your electricity consumption down to 1,000 kWh per year, as long as you think and change your habits a little. At Sparenergi, the Danish Energy Agency has prepared a calculatorwhere you can check what your appliance costs in power. Perhaps you will find that you have a device that costs too much in power, compared to how much you actually use it.

You can also produce your own power with a wind turbine or solar panels – these are the most common plants for self-production of renewable and green energy. A wind turbine in the backyard can save big on electricity bills, and it is good for the environment. Solar panels produce green current directly from the sun's light and can be put on the façade of the house, on the roof or on the ground. At home, a grid-connected photovoltaic system with an optimal location can supply 900-5,000 kWh of green energy per year depending on the size.

 

Is your power based on renewable energy?

In order to be even better at saving energy, it is in some cases worthwhile to change power companies. Often there are several electricity suppliers who offer to supply electricity where you live, and thus there are more products to choose from – some at a cheaper price, others for a greener community and some for both.

You can make a difference to both climate and environment through the power you buy. The power in your outlet is the same no matter where you buy your power, as all power generation is continuously mixed together. It is therefore not possible to sort in the electricity that comes, for example, from energy from wind turbines or the electricity that comes from energy from solar panels.

In return, you can buy electricity products from electricity trading companies, which make an effort to promote the green transition. For example, the companies use different systems to create environmental and climate measures, and by becoming a customer of a green company, you can help make a green difference.

 

renewable energy statistics

But how do you learn whether the power company you have in your binoculars markets power that is green or climate friendly? The Consumer Ombudsman has responded to this – here you have created a set of guidelines for when you can market your power as either, and in this connection a labelling scheme has been created with one or two green leaves, which will make it easier for you as a consumer to see if your electricity product is green and contributed to the green transition.

At Watts, we have been awarded a green leaf as our product is 100% based on renewable energy, which comes from Danish wind turbines and photovoltaic plants. However, we are not the only ones on the market offering electricity with green care for the environment - fortunately. Watts is your green electricity supplier.

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