The Danish wind industry had a 5.7 billion Euros export in 2008

Thus 2008 was again a record year for the wind energy industry and it is now among the biggest export industries in Denmark. In a world battling both a climate and financial crisis, the wind power industry can both lead the renewable energy technologies in becoming key drivers to revitalize the global economy and help to reduce global warming.

Growth Boom

– 2008 was a good year for the industry and we are very happy and proud of the fine result which shows that the wind industry had a total export of 5.7 billion Euros, says Jan Hylleberg, CEO of the Danish Wind Industry Association.

The wind industry’s high export figures correspond to a growth of approx. 20 pct. compared to 2007, where the industry exported a total of 4.7 billion Euros of Danish wind turbine technology abroad. This means that the wind power industry exports amounted to 7.2 pct. of the total Danish exports in 2008.

– 2008 was a very good year for Danish energy technology export particularly the products from the wind industry which accounted for more than 70 pct. of the total Danish energy technology export, notes Jan Hylleberg and continues:

– It is particularly derived from the fact that Danish suppliers are increasingly exporting components and services to foreign producers. The Danish producers have been global for years. Now the Danish suppliers follow suit and it is a trend I think we will continue to see.

The Danish lead

The Danish wind turbine industry is the world’s wind hub and the center for wind energy knowhow. But if this position and the resulting high export must be maintained, there are two main challenges that must be met.

– The wind industry has an urgent need to test and demonstrate its technology in Denmark. It is therefore crucial for the industry’s future, that there are the right places for testing prototypes and enough of them very soon, says Jan Hylleberg and adds:

– We also hope that there will soon be a renewed long term political focus when it comes to planning for renewable energy towards 2020. We need the support for the Danish development of wind power to be reconfirmed and translated into specific planning so that our industry again can show the newest and best technologies on Danish soil as an integral and effective part of the Danish energy supply, and last but not least, wind turbines are essential in order for Denmark to realize its EU renewable energy targets.

The wind industry statistics show that by the end of 2008 there were more than 28,400 employees in the wind industry. In 2007, 23,500 were employed in the industry and thus employment in the industry has increased 20.9 percent.

The global financial crisis and a lower than expected market growth; however, has meant that the industry has been forced to adjust production capacity in Denmark and therefore reduce the number of employees. The Danish Wind Industry Association therefore estimates that there will be approx. 26,000 employees in the industry at the end of the second quarter 2009.

– We hope and believe that the Danish wind industry at present has made the necessary adjustments to the number of employees, however if the market will not recover again soon, it might be necessary to adapt the work force even more" Jan Hylleberg concludes.

* Turnover: National turnover rose to 7.2 billion Euros in 2008 against 5.7 billion Euros in 2007. Increase of nearly 1.5 billion Euros or 26 percent.

* Turnover: Global sales rose to 11.4 billion Euros in 2008 against 8.8 billion Euros in 2007. Increase of 2.6 billion Euros or 29 percent.

* Export: Exports rose to 5.7 billion Euros in 2008 against 4.7 billion Euros in 2007. Increase of 1 billion Euros or 20 percent.

* Employment: Employment rose to 28,400 employees by the end of 2008 from 23,500 employees in 2007. Increase of 4,900 employees or 20.9 percent.

* Employment today: about 26,000 by the end of the second quarter 2009. Increase of 2,500 employees compared to 2007 or about 11 percent.

Wind power in Denmark

Wind power provided 19.7 percent of electricity production and 24.1% of capacity in Denmark in 2007, a significantly higher proportion than in any other country. Denmark was a pioneer in developing commercial wind power during the 1970s, and today almost half of the wind turbines around the world are produced by Danish manufacturers such as Vestas.

As concerns over global warming grew in the 1980s, Denmark found itself with relatively high carbon dioxide emissions per capita, primarily due to the coal-fired electrical power plants that had become the norm after the 1973 and 1979 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 grassroot movement had a substantial role. The Danish Anti-nuclear Movement’s (OOA) logo the "Smiling Sun, No Thanks" spread world wide, and the renewable alternatives were promoted by the Danish Organisation for Renewable Energy (OVE).

Denmark has relatively modest average wind speeds in the range of 4.9 to 5.6 metres per second measured at 10 m height. Onshore wind resources are highest in the Western part of the country, and on the Eastern islands with coastlines facing South or West.

The country has very large offshore wind resources, and large areas of sea territory with a shallow water depth of 5 to 15 m, where siting is most feasible. These sites offer higher wind speeds, in the range of roughly 8.5 to 9 m/s at 50 m height.

There have been no major problems from wind variability, although there is a temporary problem resulting from the connection of a large bloc of wind power from offshore wind farms to a single point on a weak section of the transmission network.

Denmark is connected by transmission line to other European countries and therefore it does not need to install additional peak-load plant to balance its wind power. Instead, it purchases additional power from its neighbours when necessary. With some strengthening of the grid, Denmark plans to increase wind’s share even further.

Electric vehicle charging

A deal has been announced in 2008 between Project Better Place (Palo Alto, US) and Danish utility Dong Energy that will lead to mass production of electric vehicles and implementation of an extensive recharging and battery swap infrastructure. This will act as storage capacity for the country’s wind power generation capability.

"Two million electric cars in circulation … would provide a standby capacity around five times the size of Denmark’s needs … with smart charging systems charging batteries when the power’s plentiful, and even feeding power back into the grid when necessary".

Capacities and production

In 2005, Denmark had installed wind capacity of 3,129 MW, which produced 23,810 TJ of energy. Wind power provided 18.2% of the total gross electricity production. In 2006, the installed capacity increased to 3,136 MW.

While wind power accounts for almost 20% of the power generated in Denmark, it covers only 10–14% of the country’s demand. Power in excess of immediate demand is exported to Germany, Norway, and Sweden. The latter two have considerable hydropower resources, which can rapidly reduce their generation whenever wind farms are generating surplus power, saving water for later. In effect, this is a cheap way for northern Europe to store wind power until it is needed — an opportunity which is not generally available for wind power generators.

Wind turbine industry

The Danish wind turbine industry is the world’s largest. Around 90 percent of the national output is exported, and Danish companies accounted for 38% of the world turbine market in 2003, when the industry employed some 20,000 people and had a turnover of around 3 billion euro. The biggest wind turbine manufacturers with production facilities in Denmark are Vestas and Siemens.

The development of wind power in Denmark has been characterized by a close collaboration between publicly financed research and industry in key areas such as research and development, certification, testing, and the preparation of standards. For example, in the 1980s, a large number of small Danish companies were developing wind turbines to sell to California, and the Danish Risø laboratory provided test facilities and certification procedures. These resulted in reliable products and the rapid expansion of the Danish turbine manufacturing industry.


AWEA Fact Sheet on Bogus Denmark Wind Study


On September 14, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), an anti-clean energy industry funded group, began distributing a collection of claims–some misleading and others outright false– about wind power in Denmark in a report "Wind Energy – The Case of Denmark".

These claims were presented in a study commissioned by IER and accompanying fact sheets that presented the report’s conclusions in an even more misleading manner.

Here are the facts about wind power in Denmark and the United States.

Wind Capacity, Generation & Potential

-Denmark produced 20% of its electricity from wind power. In 2008, Denmark produced nearly 3,200 megawatts (MW) of wind power – enough to power roughly 1 million U.S. homes.

-Other European countries successfully obtain a sizable share of their electricity from wind energy, including Spain (12%), Germany (7%), Portugal (9%), and Ireland (8%).

-With a much larger demand for power, the U.S produces 1.25% of generation from wind power with our 25,400 MW of wind (enough to power around 7 million U.S. homes) at the end of 2008. But the U.S. has a wind resource potential of nearly 13,000,000 MW, or roughly 20 times the peak electricity demand in the U.S. The U.S. also has 200 times the land area of Denmark and higher average wind speeds, making it an ideal location for the development of wind power.

Production vs. Consumption of Electricity and Emissions Displacement

-Wind power displaces the most expensive fuel source, commonly natural gas, but also coal and oil. Wind energy can also be used to reduce the output at hydroelectric dams, where water can be stored to later displace fossil fuels. Thus, every unit of wind energy offsets a carbon-emitting unit of fossil fuel generation.

-According to the BTM Consult World Market update for wind in 2008, the wind energy produced in Denmark in 2009 will displace over 5 million tons of CO2 across the European Union.

-In the U.S., wind production by the wind farms installed through 2008 will avoid over 44 million tons of CO2 annually.

The laws of physics (as well as the principles of economics) dictate that electricity will flow from where it is produced to where it is needed. For example, in the U.S. during the winter, electricity flows from California through transmission lines to the Pacific Northwest to heat homes there, while power flows in the opposite direction during the summer to run California’s air conditioners.

In the United States, the displaced source of electricity can be several states away; in Europe, several countries away. In some cases, wind energy allows a hydroelectric plant to store additional water behind its dam, which can then be used later to displace marginal fossil fuel sources.

-Denmark employs nearly 30,000 people in the wind industry.

-The U.S. wind industry employs 85,000 people.

-The European Commission found that “It is therefore of immense value that increasing the share of [renewable energy] not only does not harm the economy, but actually benefits it by creating jobs and increasing GDP.”

Denmark has established itself as a leader in not only wind energy production, but in wind energy companies, manufacturers, and advanced R&D centers, creating 30,000 jobs in the wind energy sector. The manufacturing of wind turbines and components represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the U.S. job market as the global wind industry builds out its supply chain and decides where to locate factories, potentially allowing us to transition our manufacturing from declining sectors into the growing wind industry which already employs 85,000. In 2008 alone, the U.S. actually brought online, announced or expanded 55 wind manufacturing facilities, representing over 10,000 manufacturing jobs.

According to a recent report funded by the European Commission, renewable energy technologies like wind and solar contribute additional jobs in the European Union and strengthen its economy: “Policies that support renewable energy sources give a significant boost to the economy and the number of jobs in the EU. Improving current policies so that the target of 20% [renewable energy supply] in final energy consumption in 2020 can be achieved will provide a net effect of about 410,000 additional jobs and 0.24% additional gross domestic product”.

Energy Production and Energy Subsidies

-Supporting energy production, as a public good, is common and prudent national policy. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) states, “Because of electricity’s importance to producers, consumers, and businesses, the federal government has undertaken a wide range of programs to develop the electricity sector, which includes fuel suppliers, electric utilities, and others in the electricity industry.”

-According to GAO, from 2002 to 2007, fossil fuel energy sources received nearly five times the amount of taxbased subsidies compared to renewable energy sources.

Historically, U.S. subsidies for oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and hydropower totaled approximately $500 billion from 1950 to 1977, or approximately $18 billion per year (2004 dollars). In the last century, this created an abundance of affordable domestic energy, powering strong economic growth, but also building an addiction to fossil fuels. Today’s rising demands – and volatile prices – are creating a need for a more diverse energy supply.

Denmark as a Leading Example of Wind’s Potential for the U.S.

-Denmark was the first country to produce 20% of its electricity from wind energy.
-The technical and economic feasibility of 20% production and consumption of wind energy by 2030 in the U.S. was confirmed by the Department of Energy in their 2008 report.

The U.S. has one of the largest and strongest wind resources in the world, but Denmark was the first country to produce 20% of its electricity from wind. The fact that Denmark has accomplished 20% electricity production from wind energy suggests it is entirely feasible in the U.S., which has a power network 100 times the size of Denmark’s, a land area 200 times as large, and holds nearly 13,000,000 MW of wind potential. The technical and economic feasibility of 20% production and consumption of wind energy by 2030 in the U.S. was further confirmed by the Department of Energy in its 2008 report (see