Wind Power in Denmark

After 6 years of marginal growth, the Danish wind industry experienced strong growth in 2009 with 294 MW of new installed capacity. The bulk of this, 209 MW, was new offshore capacity, resulting in a total installed capacity of 3,410 MW at year end. In 2009, the share of total energy production in Denmark for wind power was 20%.

This follows six years of stagnation where Denmark reached a plateau of wind power penetration at around 3.1 GW. Although a relatively small market now in terms of sales, Denmark remains an important country in the global wind power industry because of its leadership in expertise and technology and its strong manufacturing base.

During the early 1980s, Denmark had nearly all of the wind capacity outside of the United States, and this remained the case until Germany, the Netherlands and India began to build capacity in the latter part of the decade. By 1990, Denmark’s capacity amounted to 343 MW, far below the 1,911 MW of the US. Development continued through the 1990s and included two offshore projects. In 2003 Denmark reached its peak in capacity with 3,110 MW installed and has remained static since then, with 3,125 MW at the end of 2007, a slight drop from the previous year.

The renewable energy programme in Denmark which until recently was heavily subsidised, directly and indirectly, is primarily based on wind power. The programmes were assisted by an obligation on Transmission System Operators (and ultimately on electricity consumers) to purchase the total output of power from wind and local district heating sources at increased prices which were fixed by the government. Direct subsidies were paid for renewable energy produced both under compulsory purchase and free market conditions.