Local communities invest in Danish wind energy

Winds of 60 km per hour hit us as soon as we alighted from the bus at Hvide Sande – “White Sand” – on the west coast of Denmark, home to a community-owned wind energy project comprising three 3MW wind turbines.

All that could be heard was the powerful wind: the generators cannot be heard over the considerable sound of the wind.

I was joined by 40 policy makers and experts from 15 European countries as part of a workshop on 100% Renewable Energy in European Regions, organised by the World Future Council and the Climate Service Center at the Nordic Folkecenter, Denmark.

The region serves as a living example of 100% renewable energy already in action. Wind plays a big role in this area of Europe: 87% of the country’s electricity consumption that day was covered by wind power, and, in Denmark as a whole, €16 million from local residents is being invested in renewable energies.

The three wind turbines at the Hvide Sande harbour were set up in December 2011. 80% of the wind farm is owned by the Holmsland Klit Tourist Association foundation, a local business fund which initiated and financed the project.

Hvide Sande’s North Harbour Turbine Society I/S pay an annual rent of €644000 to the local harbour. The other 20% is owned by local residents living within a 4.5 km radius, as per the guidelines set out by the Danish Renewable Energy Act.

This wind co-operative has 400 local stakeholders, and with an annual return of 9 to 11% the turbines are expected to pay for themselves in 7 to 10 years. The fund is used to initiate new business initiatives for the benefit of the harbour and local municipality.

Over 100 wind turbine co-operatives have a combined ownership of three-quarters of the country’s turbines. The price per kWh for electricity from community-owned wind parks is competitive with conventional power production.

Winds of change are blowing through the European energy sector. As we observe in Denmark and other countries, the co-operative enterprise model is highly successful, allowing people, local communities and regions to be the driving force of the biggest transformational process in Europe since the industrial revolution. The country is well on its way to achieving its 100% renewable energy target for electricity, heat and transport by 2050.

More information can be found on our blog: http://power-to-the-people.net

By Fiona Woo, World Future Council, http://blog.ewea.org/