Sustainable Cities™

Copenhagen: Cities can run on wind energy

The Danish Government is aiming to turn 50% of Danish electricity consumption into offshore wind power by 2030. In 2000, the city of Copenhagen took part in a large offshore wind farm project called Middelgrunden two kilometres off the city's coastline. The project was to produce energy for the city. Although wind power produced locally in Copenhagen is for national consumption this case shows that cities can be visionary and produce energy themselves.

Windmills_at_Middelgrunden_Copenhagen_5_August_2007_By_andjohan_MK_B
Vindmøller ved Middelgrunden, København, 5. august 2007, Af Andjohan, Flickr, Creative Commons

In 2000, the city of Copenhagen took part in a large offshore wind farm project two kilometres off the city's coastline. The project is based on a partnership between the municipality and local shareholders.
Wind energy is not the energy source that immediately springs to mind when thinking about renewable energy in cities. Few cities have enough space within their area to build large wind farms. It is more common to find small wind turbines on suitable locations or even on buildings.

The wind farm 'Middelgrunden' consists of a slightly curved line of 20 turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 76 m and a generator size of 2 MW. Wind turbines are expensive to build, whereas the operating costs are low. Denmark tops world consumption of wind power with 22 per cent of its total electrical consumption produced in wind turbines in June 2005. This compares to a mere 6 per cent in neighbouring Germany and 0.5 per cent globally. Middelgrunden does not produce electricity specifically for Copenhagen. The wind power production bought by energy company Dong Energy and sold to national as well as international customers.  

Denmark was a pioneer in developing commercial wind power during the 1970s. Today almost half of the wind turbines placed around the world are produced by Danish manufacturers, such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S. The Danish government in the 1980s and 1990s was supporting wind energy development. This resulted in a dramatic reduction in the cost of wind-generated electricity. To promote investments in wind power families were offered tax deductions if generating their own energy within their own or the neighbouring municipality. This incentive resulted in the creation of numerous vind power cooperatives. In 2001, more than 100.000 Danish families were members of a vind power cooperative.

Middelgrunden Vindmøllelaug is the largest of its kind in the world with 8.600 owners. Middelgrunden wind power park is 50 % financed by 10.000 stockholders in Middelgrunden Vindmøllelaug and 50 % financed by the municipal energy supplier in Copenhagen, Copenhagen Energy.

"Public resistance against wind turbines in the landscape is and has been one of the largest barriers to the development of wind power - and thus to the development of an environment friendly and sustainable energy supply. This counts both for Denmark and other countries. At the moment, there is though a wide support for wind energy in Denmark" Middelgrunden projektinformation

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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