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Learning from our neighbours How Denmark uses wind power and district heat from biomass to push ahead with its energy transition

Learning from our neighbours

In 2016, Germany produced around 31 percent of its electricity and 13 percent of its heat from renewable energy. In the same year, Denmark covered as much as 37 percent with wind power. Our northern neighbour is also far ahead in terms of district heating.

Germany recognised the importance of renewable energy long ago and has adopted the target of raising the share of renewable energy in national energy consumption to 18 percent by 2020. But let us look at our neighbour in the North, Denmark: The country started revolutionising its energy policy in the mid-1980s. As a pioneer in the renewable energy field, Denmark has been acting as a role model, not only for Germany.

Denmark – country of turbines

Under the EU Climate and Energy Package, Denmark is to produce 30 percent renewable energy by 2020. Wind power plays an important role in this scheme - in 2015, Denmark was operating wind farms with over 5 GW which covered 42 percent of the country's electricity requirement. Although there was less wind last year, the turbines still produced around 37 percent of total electricity.

District heat from biomass instead of oil and gas boilers

Denmark is also trailblazing in terms of heat supply: By 2035, 100 percent of the country's district heating is to be generated from renewable energy. To achieve this aim, the installation of oil and gas boilers was prohibited both in new and existing buildings. Most smaller and bigger towns rely on an intricate heat supply system. The conurbation of Copenhagen is particularly well organised: Over one million people are connected to the district heating grid, half of which is fed by energy from biomass. "In terms of heat supply, Germany can learn a lot from the Danish experience, even if we cannot transfer everything par to par. Very long-term and consistent framework conditions are crucial for companies and investments alike," says Jan Rispens, Managing Director of the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster.

Hamburg – a renewable energy centre

The north of Germany is considered a pioneer in the field of renewable energy. Both the number of wind farms and the regional distribution of wind energy companies reflect this fact. Hamburg is a particularly attractive location in this context. Its mayor Olaf Scholz has referred to the city as European 'wind capital'. The Port Wind Farm demonstrates that the energy transition can be implemented even at the heart of a city. It is therefore not surprising that many companies in the renewable energy sector have offices in the Hanseatic City. Thanks to Hamburg's vicinity to the Danish border, they also include numerous Danish enterprises, among them Danfoss, DONG Energy and Vestas.

Danish members of the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster

A pioneer in the field of energy industry digitisation, Danfoss installed a comprehensive CO2 heating and cooling system in a Danish supermarket last year. Thanks to the smart linking of all cooling units, the associated waste heat is directed where it is needed. The supermarket thus supplies a total of 20 near-by households with heat. Danfoss is also active in the field of thermal energy storage: Its tanks are capable of storing hot water for several days. The energy thus gained is distributed via the district's energy system, which is also referred to as neighbourhood system. Danfoss boss Niels B. Christiansen comments: "In windy nights which produce excess wind energy, electricity can be easily converted into heat and stored in the form of hot water. Our hot showers in the morning get heated by the neighbourhood system."


Cluster member DONG Energy is the largest developer and operator of offshore wind farms worldwide. The offshore pioneer built the world's first offshore wind farm in Vindeby, Denmark, more than 25 years ago. Since then, the company has been responsible for significant progress in the offshore field. Wind farm technology is developing at a fast pace. The company has therefore decided to dismantle the Vindeby system this year. DONG Energy is the first company worldwide to have installed 1,000 offshore wind farms. And that is not all: The company's ambitious aim includes installing more megawatts by 2020 than it has installed in the last 25 years. The company's latest project, the Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind farm near Liverpool, commenced operations in mid-May. The farm uses the new V164-8.0 MW turbines produced by the Danish manufacturer MHI-Vestas, each of which generates more energy than the combined Vindeby farm. "Burbo Bank Extension shows how fast the offshore wind industry is developing. Less than ten years ago, DONG Energy installed Siemens turbines with a capacity of 3.6 MW in the Burbo Bank offshore wind farm. Since then, the performance of wind turbines has more than doubled," says Henrik Poulsen, CEO of DONG Energy. The same type of turbine is also being installed in the German Borkum Riffgrund 2 wind farm which will commence operations by 2019 at the latest. The most recent DONG Energy installations in Germany are Gode Wind 1 and 2. With a capacity of 582 MW, the wind farm is capable of supplying 600,000 German households a year.

Vestas has been manufacturing turbines since 1979. Today, the company is the global leader in the production, installation and maintenance of wind turbines. In total, the Cluster member has installed over 83 GW in 75 countries worldwide. This year, Vesta's joint venture MHI Vestas Offshore Wind is expanding its V164 offshore turbine production capacities at its production site in the Danish port city of Esbjerg. The V164 is capable of producing 9.5 MW. At the end of last year, a prototype generated 216,000 kilowatt hours in 24 hours, setting a new world record. The rotor blades are 80 metres long.


About Astrid Dose

Profilbild zu: Astrid Dose

Talking, writing, organising – and having lots of fun! This is what my days at the EEHH Cluster look like. I’ve been responsible for public relations and marketing for the Hamburg industry network since 2011. I studied History and English and have a soft spot for technical issues.