The Trend of Denmark’s Electricity Generation
After the oil crisis in the 1970s, Denmark’s energy policy was severely affected by the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. As a result, the establishment of a natural gas network in the country has initiated an energy program that supports renewable energy.
In 2016, 62.8% of the total electricity production was produced from renewable sources, almost exclusively from wind power, biofuels and waste. Solar energy and hydro power play an insignificant role, whereas wind power contributes almost 42% of the total electricity production. Biofuels facilities account for roughly 13%. The rest of the electricity is produced by coal, natural gas and oil. Coal accounts for 29.0% of the total electricity production, whereas natural gas contributes 7.1%. The role of coal has been reduced strongly in the past 26 years, as in 1990 electricity production from coal almost 90.7% of the total electricity production (IEA).
After the 2000s, Denmark has focused strongly on renewable energy with its various incentive applications and aims to ensure that the public will benefit from wind energy projects (Bohnerth, 2015). Denmark is one of the countries with the strongest cooperatives in the energy sectors in Europe and its cooperatives have considerable experience in sustainable energy technologies. Among these cooperatives, wind cooperatives have an important place with their experiences and technologies they use (Global Watch Mission Report, 2004).
The Middelgrunden Cooperative
One of these cooperatives is the Middelgrunden renewable energy cooperative, one of which was established in May 1997, with installed wind power of 20 MW, and is the most photographed by visitors from all over the World.
The Middelgrunden cooperative was founded to support the use of renewable energy sources in Denmark’s electricity generation. Since the establishment, they have pioneered other cooperatives in the use of wind energy. Middelgrunden cooperative has left 21 years behind pursuing the idea of producing electricity in the framework of sustainable development principles.
I made this interview with Middelgrunden cooperative chairman Erik Christiansen and cooperative board member Hans Christian Sørensen via email for the Sosyal Ekonomi Blog. They share their experiences in the sector with us. Many thanks to them for sharing their experiences with the readers in Turkey.
When was your cooperative founded and how did the founders come together?
E.C.: May 1997. The founders knew each other from local activities.
H.C.S.: Middelgrunden wind was founded in 1997. The 6 founders were active in the Lynetten wind coop founded 1995; we knew each other from different organisations like sport, renewable organisations etc.
What are the total installed capacity and yearly electricity production (kWh) of the cooperative? And type of fuels used for electricity generation?
E.C.: Approx. 48 million kWh/year. Wind turbines!
H.C.S.: 20 MW; 50 million kWh/year; wind.
“The key words are: voluntary work by the board, one shareholder has only one vote; no loans securing that the risk is only the share capital injected.”
Could you give us some information about the member structure of the cooperative? For instance, how many members does the cooperative have?
E.C.: Approx. 8,600 members. The member structure is confidential according to Danish legislation.
H.C.S.: We have 8,552 members. The structure is following the bylaws established by the Danish Wind Owners Association representing at that time (1997) 40% of all wind capacity in Denmark. The key words are: voluntary work by the board, one shareholder has only one vote; no loans securing that the risk is only the share capital injected.
“Create the possibilities for citizens in a capital to engage in local sustainable projects…”
What was the purpose behind founding the cooperative?
E.C.: Create the possibilities for citizens in a capital to engage in local sustainable projects – and to show our neighbours (Sweden) that we don’t depend on nuclear power.
H.C.S.: Agenda21 action: showing for the public in Copenhagen that wind energy is an option locally also even though the wind regime is much better at the west coast.
Have you received support from the government or any other organization regarding the founding of the cooperative?
E.C.: No – but the government (the energy minister) supported the idea, and the Danish legislation for offshore wind turbines was based on the experiences from our wind farm.
H.C.S.: Yes, from 1997 to 2002 there was incentives available for studying the feasibility of an offshore wind project; not for founding of the coop.
How to make decisions about the management of the cooperative?
E.C.: A tender among local administrative experts was established. It was a public tender announced in newspapers, and all election criteria were mentioned in the announcement.
H.C.S.: The general assembly is appointing the board members as stated in the bylaws.
What are your future plans for the cooperative?
E.C.: To continue with a new kind of installing capacity.
H.C.S.: We have a 25 years lease of the sea bottom; the design life is 50 years; we can apply for another 25 years lease; the technical lifetime is not more than 25 years of the wind turbine (but 50 of the foundation) so we expect to have a repowering after 20 years operation (2020)
“..this is an action where people can influence the future development of Renewable Energy.”
What are your suggestions to people who start to founding renewable energy cooperatives?
E.C.: Many – you can find some of our experiences on the English website for www.middelgrunden.dk
H.C.S.: Be open with as much information as possible; underline this is an action where people can influence the future development of Renewable Energy.
Finally, do you have messages you want to forward?
E.C.: See the website.
H.C.S.: Influence the politician that coop should an option for ownership of Renewable Energy; the present development in EU is not positive as it favours the capital intensive developers and not voluntary organisations (NGO) with a weak capital structure. Look REScoop about citizens’ energy communities.