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Some countries are blessed with an abundance of natural resources such as oil, metals, gold or diamonds. Denmark has the wind. Lots of it.

Robin Rigg 

November, 2015

With some of the best wind conditions in the world it is hardly surprising that Denmark became a pioneer in wind power and a world leader in wind power technology.

Necessity is the mother of invention and after the 1973 oil crisis, and surging crude prices throughout the 1970’s, it became imperative that Denmark had to significantly reduce its strong dependency on oil imported from the Middle East.

Up till the 1970’s, Denmark had been highly dependent on imported energy, primarily oil from the Middle East. Exploration of oil and gas from the Danish section of the North Sea had started in the early 1960’s but it took almost ten years before the first oil deposits were developed.

In 1979, the first commercial wind turbine was installed, a Vestas 30 kW turbine, marking the first step in what would later become a billion-dollar industry and huge export success for Denmark. A lot has happened since the first kW-turbines and Vestas is today developing an 8MW wind turbine, based on very advanced technology, a total height of 220 metres and a weigh of 1,300 tonnes, the foundation a staggering 4,000 tonnes. The first industrial unit is expected to be installed in 2016 off the coast of the UK.

A successful industry

Today, more than 40 per cent of Denmark’s energy supply comes from wind power and the plan is to reach 50 per cent by 2020, as set out in the 2012 Energy Act. In 2050, the plan is for Denmark to be 100 per cent free of fossil fuel and wind energy will make up a very large part of the energy mix by then. 

In 2014, turnover in the Danish wind industry amounted to DKK 84.4 billion, an increase of 7.4 per cent from the year before while exports rose by 16.7 per cent to DKK 53.5 billion, which accounts for more than 5 per cent of Denmark’s total exports.

Almost 29,000 people were employed in the industry by the end of 2014, of which 78 per cent are employed in West Denmark.

Total wind energy capacity in Denmark was 4,890 MW by the end of 2014, 3,620 MW onshore and 1,271 MW offshore.

Horns reef

First mover advantage

Denmark has benefited tremendously from being a first mover in the wind industry and the country today boasts a world-leading industry with hundreds of companies covering every aspect of the supply chain, ranging from wind turbine producers, developers of offshore wind farms to special vessels for offshore installation, transport, maintenance and service and manufacturers of components and parts for the turbine.

Extensive research & development programmes into new wind technology are being carried out, both at the company’s R&D departments but also at the universities. Project development, financing of large offshore wind farms, analysis and consultancy. Ports being specially developed for handling and assembling offshore wind turbines.
Although competition has increased significantly in recent years, Danish wind turbine producers are still among the largest in the world.

Vestas Wind Systems has installed wind turbines in 74 countries around the world with a total capacity of more than 69GW.

Siemens Wind Power has to date installed a total capacity of 21GW world-wide and is a leader within offshore wind.

Having built more offshore wind farms than any other company in the world, DONG Energy is a major player in Europe’s offshore wind industry. More than one-third of all offshore wind capacity is built by the Danish utility company and its aim is to quadruple its installed capacity by 2020 compared with 2012.

Sources: Danish Wind Industry Association, Vestas Wind Systems, Siemens Wind Power, DONG Energy