Last week Denmark’s Energy Association announced that wind power had become the cheapest source of energy in the country. Further, when two new offshore wind farms become active in 2016, wind energy will cost half the price of coal and natural gas.
This announcement marks a major achievement in Denmark’s energy policy, as it has pursued wind power more diligently than any other nation. The country has set the goal of generating 70 percent of its power from renewables by 2020 and seems well on its way to doing so. Today, about 43 percent of its energy comes from clean sources – mostly wind and solar.
Denmark is well ahead of its fellow industrialized nations in terms of renewable power – with the exception of Germany, which recently announced it was filling nearly 29 percent of its national energy needs with renewables. Both Germany and Denmark present a strong contrast to the United States in terms of what countries can achieve when committed to an efficient energy agenda.
In America, when Congress is not arguing over the existence of climate change, the biggest argument against a green energy agenda is cost. That argument is beginning to fade.
In 2013, Deutsche Bank released a report heralding “the beginning of the grid parity era” for solar power. In America, solar is becoming more widespread and high profile companies like Apple are heavily pushing a solar agenda. Yet traditional electric companies are challenging tax subsidies on renewables throughout the country.
Yet Denmark has achieved cheaper wind power without government tax breaks. Combine that with the fact that fossil fuels are actually more expensive in Denmark than in the U.S., and the excuses against renewables quickly fall apart. As Yale360 calculates, manufacturing costs for wind power have declined so much in Denmark that “[w]ind power would remain the cheapest energy option even if interest rates on wind power projects were to increase by 10 percent.”