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Why is Denmark subsidising a heating fuel it wants to phase out? 

Denmark's government has reached a political agreement which will see it both issue a billion kroner in subsidies for gas heating at the same time as committing to phase it out altogether.

Why is Denmark subsidising a heating fuel it wants to phase out? 
Environment Minister Dan Jørgensen and the energy spokespeople of the other parties announce a political agreement on gas heating on Friday. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix)

On Friday morning, the government said that it had struck a political agreement over gas heating with six of the other parties in parliament — the Socialist People’s Party, the Radical Left, the Red Green Alliance, the Free Greens, the Christian Democrats and the Alternative. 

The agreement will provide a temporary subsidy of a billion kroner (€135m) to help those dependent on gas to heat their homes cope with the current unusually high gas price. But it will also accelerate moves to phase out the use of gas for heating.

How big will the subsidy be and who will it go to? 

The billion kroner will be given out to an estimated 320,000 households, with each receiving a payment of about 3,750 kroner to help them pay for their energy bills over the rest of the winter.  

The 320,000 households will include those who get their heating from their own gas boilers, those who are supplied hot water from district heating plants which get more than 65 percent of their heat from gas, and areas which use both gas and electricity impacted heavily by the gas price. 

Anyone who earns more than 550,000 kroner a year after paying their social security contributions will not be eligible for the payment. 

Why is Denmark’s government subsidising a heating fuel it wants to phase out? 

Environment Minister Dan Jørgensen on Friday agreed that it was a “strange” and contradictory deal.

“This is a very unique situation and not something we want to happen again. The agreement has two prongs:  we are helping those who are hard hit now… but we are also looking forward, and want to phase out these gas boilers.” 

What will Denmark do to phase out gas boilers? 

At the press conference Jørgensen admitted that EU rules meant that Denmark could not ban the installation of gas boilers without going through the European Commission, but he said he would go to Brussels shortly to seek a concession allowing Denmark to push ahead with its plans. 

He said that the government would later this year come up with a concrete national plan on how gas boilers are to be phased out. 

The parties also allocated 250m kroner (€33m) to push forward the development of so-called “green district heating”, and to speed up the phasing out of fossil fuels from the heating sector. 

The government has pledged to open a “strengthened dialogue” with municipalities, knowledge institutions and district heating companies on how to speed up conversion away from gas.

Will more district heating help consumers handle heating prices? 

According to Kim Mortensen, director of Denmark’s district heating trade body, building more district heating is a good way of protecting consumers from fluctuations in the price of gas and other heating fuels. Only 1.6m of Denmark’s 1.8m district heating customers have experienced price increases. 

What did the other parties to the agreement say? 

In a press release issued on Friday, the parties agreeing to the deal unanimously backed the decision to give a one-off subsidy to those exposed to the gas price. 

“Too many Danes look nervously at the heating bill and have been waiting for our help. Now there is finally an economic helping hand to the Danes, who are hit hardest by the rising heating prices,” said Signe Munk, energy and climate spokesperson for the Socialist Left Party. 

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ENERGY

Denmark and three other EU nations want to increase North Sea wind power tenfold by 2050

EU members Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium on Wednesday said they wanted to increase their North Sea wind power capacity tenfold by 2050 to help the bloc achieve its climate goals and avoid Russian hydrocarbons.

Denmark and three other EU nations want to increase North Sea wind power tenfold by 2050

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the plan would mean the four countries would “deliver more than half of all offshore wind needed to reach climate neutrality in the European Union”.

The increase would make the North Sea “the green power plant of Europe”, she told a news conference in the port of Esbjerg in western Denmark.

“Setting a vision is not enough, we will make it happen,” Frederiksen added, flanked by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, Dutch premier Mark Rutte and Belgian leader Alexander De Croo.

The countries’ goal is to raise wind power capacity fourfold to 65 gigawatts by 2030 and then tenfold to almost 150 gigawatts by 2050.

They said 150 gigawatts of offshore wind power would supply 230 million homes with electricity.

Such a capacity would amount to 15,000-20,000 wind turbines, based on the most powerful ones currently on the market.

The announcement comes as the European Commission presented a plan to accelerate the development of renewable energy worth 210 billion euros ($220 billion) to reduce the bloc’s dependence on Russian gas as quickly as possible.

The European Union has already said it will end imports of Russian coal by August.

An embargo on Russian oil as part of a sixth sanctions package against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine is proving more contentious after Hungary raised objections.

The commission has said it wants to reduce purchases of Russian gas by two-thirds this year and completely before 2030.

On Wednesday it proposed to increase the proportion of renewable energies in the bloc’s energy mix from 40 percent to 45 percent by 2030.

The 27-nation EU aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

READ ALSO: Danish offshore wind could help Europe ditch fossil fuels

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