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America Needs to Start Paying Attention to How Denmark Is Generating Its Electricity

Setting a sustainable example for the rest of the world, Denmark generated a record-breaking 42% of its electricity last year from wind turbines — upping the country’s previous world record, set in 2014, by 3%.

“Hopefully, Denmark can serve as an example to other countries that it is possible to have both ambitious green policies with a high proportion of wind energy and other renewables in the energy supply, and still have a high security of supply and competitive prices on electricity,” said Lars Christian Lilleholt, Denmark’s Minister of Energy, Utilities, and Climate, calling the accomplishment significant, the Guardian reported.

According to the report by Energinet, energy produced by wind power actually exceeded total Danish electricity consumption for 409 hours in 2015, though the western part of the energy system had surplus production for 1,460 of the year’s 8,760 total hours, or 16% of the time.

Carsten Vittrup, Energy Strategy Adviser for Energinet’s Energy Analysis division, explained such a surplus isn’t necessarily unusual. He noted it simply allows Denmark to export the excess and import other forms. “If, for some hours, we have surplus wind energy,” he explained, “the producers sell it to consumers in Norway, Sweden, and Germany, and, conversely, we buy hydroelectric power from Norway, solar energy from Germany, and power station electricity from Sweden, when it is advantageous to Denmark.”

Amazingly, this record was set despite two offshore wind farms experiencing three total months of downtime for cable malfunctions. “Excluding these cable faults,” stated the report, “the wind power share would have been [approximately] 43.5 per cent.” Danish parliament set a goal to produce 50% of its energy using wind by 2020 — and the report predicts this objective will be achieved.

Another remarkable feat in 2015, according to Energinet, was that “For the first time ever, power was supplied to the Danes for a whole day without any of the country’s large central power stations being in operation. This has never happened before for a whole day running. On 2 September, the Danes were supplied with electricity exclusively from wind turbines, solar cells, local CHP plants, and via imports from neighboring countries.” Combined Heat and Power (CHP) recaptures heat lost in conventional energy production for reuse. Where separate production of usable heat and power has a “typical combined efficiency of 45 percent, CHP systems can operate at levels as high as 80 percent.”

Denmark set one additional record, as well. For one hour in July 2015, Danish wind power produced 138.7% of total consumption — again breaking its own record of 132.1% set the previous year. As Energinet excitedly pointed out:

Danish and European energy systems are undergoing massive changes, and … renewable energy will change the way electricity systems are operated.

Indeed, an increasing number of countries have turned to renewable energy sources to meet their needs. As Anti-Media reported in late December, Costa Rica destroyed critics’ cynicism about green energy by producing a spectacular 99% of its power from renewable sources in 2015 — even managing an unheard of 285 days of energy production completely free of fossil-fuels. Scotland, Sweden, Finland and others are paving the way as numerous solutions to fossil fuels’ heavy footprint hit the market.

Truly sustainable, renewable energy production is not only possible, it’s profitable. For the United States to continue to compete with the rest of the world, the government has no choice but to turn away from fossil fuel sources — and the hugely powerful lobbies backing that outdated industry.