Twenty years since it built its first offshore wind park, Denmark believes these installations are key to achieving a future free of fossil fuels.
“There is a lot of wind here, and the shallow waters off the Danish coast mean it is not so expensive to build at sea here, as it is in other places,” said Steen Gade, Chairman of the Climate and Energy Committee of Danish Parliament, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
“We have good prospects for producing a very high degree of windmill-generated electricity for Denmark and also the rest of Europe, in the long run,” he said.
Denmark already has hundreds of onshore facilities and several offshore wind parks. According to the Danish Energy Agency, the share of installed offshore megawatts jumped from 423 MW in 2008 to 868 MW in 2010. The total installed capacity, at land and sea, equaled 3.8 gigawatts last year, representing 25 percent of the country’s electricity demand.
Moreover, Denmark is good at involving local people in the planning of wind-turbine projects, be they on or off shore. This has helped reduce complaints that wind-turbines are noisy, cast irritating shadows and disfigure the landscape.
"The Danish cooperative model involves private persons in the ownership of wind turbines, because you want the project to be accepted, and also to avoid the NIMBY or,'Not In My Back Yard' effect," said Hans Christian Soerensen, board member of the Middelgrunden Wind Turbine Cooperative.
The so-called NIMBY effect is where local people reject big schemes imposed in their area without their prior consultation.
Soerensen, who works as an engineer in the renewable energy sector, has first hand experience of avoiding this process at the Middelgrunden, or Middle Ground park. It is a wind energy project consisting of 20 towering wind-turbines set a few kilometers off Copenhagen's east coast, and spread in a graceful arc in the city's bustling harbor.
Clearly visible from housing and recreation areas on land, from ships plying the harbor, and from aircraft coming in to land at the nearby international airport, these turbines required full, local acceptance before they could be installed.
The idea for the park was raised as far back as 1993, and consultation with local people and non-governmental organizations about where and how to place the wind-turbines started soon after. Moreover, the park is unique because it is the first Danish offshore wind farm based on sale of shares.
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