Danish government proposes giant 800MW wind farm

The Danish government has presented plans to build a giant 800MW offshore wind farm over the coming decade which will generate enough electricity to supply 800,000 households.

Danish government proposes giant 800MW wind farm
An offshore wind farm managed by the Danish energy firm Ørsted. Photo: Ørsted
The farm, which will be twice the size of Denmark’s current largest, will be put out to tender in 2021 and built  between 2024 and 2027. The government has yet to decide on where the farm will be based. 
The farm is the most eye-catching scheme in a government proposal published on Thursday, which it hopes will form the basis of a future energy agreement with opposition parties setting the direction for Denmark's energy policy from 2020 to 2030. 
“The government's long-term climate target is that Denmark must be a low-emission society by 2050 which does not emit greenhouse gases and is completely independent of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil,” Energy Minister Lars Christian Lilleholt said in a press release. 
“We must be able to cover at least half of Denmark's energy demand for renewable energy by 2030.” 
But the focus on wind generation comes alongside a sharp reduction in electricity taxes, which is unlikely to please environmentalists. 
The government hopes to cut the tax on electricity from 91 øre a kilowatt to 25 øre between 2019 and 2025, saving the average family 1500 Danish kroner a year, and also halve the tax on electric heating from 30 øre to 15 øre. 
Danish Energy, the country’s trade body for energy companies welcomed the plan. 
The proposal marks a new departure, where the green goes up, but the electricity bill goes down,” the body's chief executive Lars Aagaard said in a press release. 
His main criticism was that the government had failed to emphasise transport sufficiently. 
“If we want to we achieve our long-term climate ambitions and targets for energy efficiency, we need to consider cars powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels,” he said, pointing out that an electric car is three times as energy efficient.  
Pia Olsen Dyhr, chair of the Socialist People's Party, said the government’s claim that the proposal was “the greenest in Denmark’s history” was “pure gibberish”. 
“It is quite clear that it is far more important for the government to provide tax relief than to be be ambitious when it comes to solving the climate challenge and to create jobs in green companies,” she wrote in a blog post. 
“I'm deeply afraid that my daughter's going to come and knock on my door in 20 years furious that we did not do more to curb climate change.” 


Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

Sweden's government has proposed a new law which will remove local municipalities' power to block wind parks in the final stages of the planning process, as part of a four-point plan to speed up the expansion of wind power.

Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

“We are doing this to meet the increased need for electricity which is going to come as a result of our green industrial revolution,” Strandhäll said at a press conference. 

“It is important to strengthen Sweden by rapidly breaking our dependence on fossil fuels, building out our energy production and restructuring our industry. The Swedish people should not be dependent on countries like Russia to drive their cars or warm their homes.”

“We are going to make sure that municipalities who say “yes” to wind power get increased benefits,” she added in a press statement. “In addition, we are going to increase the speed with which wind power is built far offshore, which can generally neither be seen or heard from land.” 

While municipalities will retain a veto over wind power projects on their territory under the proposed new law, they will have to take their decision earlier in the planning process to prevent wind power developers wasting time and effort obtaining approvals only for the local government to block projects at the final stags. 

“For the local area, it’s mostly about making sure that those who feel that new wind parks noticeably affect their living environment also feel that they see positive impacts on their surroundings as a result of their establishment,” Strandhäll said.  “That might be a new sports field, an improved community hall, or other measures that might make live easier and better in places where wind power is established.” 

According to a report from the Swedish Energy Agency, about half of the wind projects planned since 2014 have managed to get approval. But in recent years opposition has been growing, with the opposition Moderate, Swedish Democrats, and Christian Democrat parties increasingly opposing projects at a municipal level. 

Municipalities frequently block wind park projects right at the end of the planning process following grassroots local campaigns. 

The government a month ago sent a committee report, or remiss, to the Council on Legislation, asking them to develop a law which will limit municipal vetoes to the early stages of the planning process. 

At the same time, the government is launching two inquiries. 

The first will look into what incentives could be given to municipalities to encourage them to allow wind farms on their land, which will deliver its recommendations at the end of March next year. In March, Strandhäll said that municipalities which approve wind farm projects should be given economic incentives to encourage them to accept projects on their land. 

The second will look into how to give the government more power over the approvals process for wind projects under Sweden’s environmental code. This will deliver its recommendations at the end of June next year.