Denmark was one of the first countries to set out detailed plans for developing the energy sector back in the 1970s. Denmark was a pioneer in developing commercial wind-power and today, almost half of the wind turbines around the world are produced by Danish manufacturers such as Vestas. Added to this has been the strong commitment of the Danish business sector to developing – and using – energy-efficient solutions. Though the windmill industry is the best-known example, but there is more.

A common-sense approach to energy-efficient measures such as insulating houses and cost savings in production has gone hand in hand with high-tech solutions for the whole society. For example, there is an electricity supply system that can handle the fact that windmills supply, in periods, more than 100 per cent of the energy required, and in other periods supply nothing at all. And it can do this in a competitive manner.

Denmark does not have any hydroelectric power resources worth mentioning, nor the large forest areas that typically form the basis for a large part of a country’s production of renewable energy. Neither does Denmark use nuclear power, which is a large source of CO2-free energy in other countries in the same group. Energy efficiency in Denmark has been created by a range of new technologies and solutions, and this can today serve as an example of how one can create a high level of growth without a corresponding increase in energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions.

As concerns over global warming grew in the 1980s, Denmark had found itself with relatively high carbon dioxide emissions per capita, primarily due to the coal-fired electric power plants that had become the norm after the energy crises of the 1970s. Renewable Energy became the natural choice for Denmark, decreasing both dependence on other countries for energy and global warming pollution. Denmark adopted a target of cutting carbon emissions by 22% from 1988 levels by 2005. In 1988, two years after the Chernobyl disaster, the Danes passed a law forbidding the construction of nuclear power plants. In the process, the Danish grassroots movement had a substantial role. The Danish Anti-nuclear Movement‘s (OOA) smiling sun logo “Nuclear Power, No Thanks” spread world wide, and the renewable alternatives were promoted by the Danish Organization for Renewable Energy (OVE).

Denmark in 2009 is in many ways a dynamic, working laboratory for the meeting of new energy technologies and old common sense in its relationship with nature. No wonder they are hosting one of the most crucial climate change conferences in the history of the world!