Denmark announces major plan to replace gas heating in homes

Around 50 percent of Danish households that are currently heated by natural gas will be converted to district heating by 2028.

Danish climate and energy minister Dan Jørgensen
Danish climate and energy minister Dan Jørgensen presents a government plan to significantly reduce individual gas heating of homes. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The target was stated by Minister for Climate and Energy Dan Jørgensen on Tuesday as he presented a government energy reform including a plan for Denmark to end its dependence on Russian gas.

Around 400,000 households in Denmark are currently heated using natural gas energy supplies according to the government.

Up to 30-50 percent of those homes are most suitable for conversion to district heating and will be switched over on a continual basis until 2028 under the plan.

Other homes will be switched to electric heat pumps by 2030.

Danish residents have seen considerable increases in heating bill costs as a result of global energy price increases and the knock-on effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The government is set to pay out one-off emergency funds to households worst affected by the price increases.

READ ALSO: Denmark boosts heating bill help and gives it to more households

“(The plan) is realistic but we’re on a tight schedule,” Jørgensen said.

The minister also noted that the government “cannot force Danes [people who live in Denmark, ed.] to use any particular heating fuel”.

“But I must say that there is very high demand at municipalities and district heating companies to provide options for rolling out district heating sooner,” he said.

Industry interest organisation Dansk Fjernvarme estimates that around 250,000 of the homes currently on individual gas heating could eventually be converted to district heating.

However, some houses are in locations too remote to be connected to a district heating network. In these cases, the government said it sought to find other solutions for replacing their gas heaters, including heat pumps.

Households located in areas with district heating can connect to the network, with heating supplied through pipes laid under road surfaces.

In areas without main pipe lines, local authorities and district heating power stations can agree to expand supplies locally.

According to the government plan, households that currently have individual gas heating will receive a letter by the end of this year informing them of their options in relation to district heating conversion.

Remaining houses unable or unwilling to switch to district heating or heat pumps “must change to biogas so that they still have a gas heater but it’s green biogas, so we can ensure we are free of (Russian president Vladimir) Putin,” Jørgensen said.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen earlier said that Denmark must become entirely independent of Russian gas for its energy and heating needs following Moscow’s invasion on Ukraine.

The government also stepped up its programme to develop renewable energy, saying it now plans to quadruple the number of solar power stations and land-based wind farms by 2030.

Half of Denmark’s electric power already comes from wind energy.

“We want to develop renewable energies as much as it is possible to do itin an intelligent manner,” Frederiksen said.

Gas accounts for 18 percent of energy consumed in Denmark each year. National production accounted for three quarters of the gas consumed in 2019, with Russia among the main exporters of the fossil fuel, according to the
Danish energy agency.

The International Energy Agency says that, in 2021, the EU imported 155 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia, representing 45 percent of its gas imports.

READ ALSO: Denmark to present plan that could end use of Russian gas

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Swedish institute says underwater ‘blasts’ recorded prior to Nord Stream leaks

Two underwater blasts were recorded prior to the discovery of three leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines linking Russia and Europe, a Swedish seismological institute said Tuesday as the unexplained leaks raised suspicions of sabotage.

Swedish institute says underwater 'blasts' recorded prior to Nord Stream leaks

The Swedish National Seismic Network recorded two “massive releases of energy” shortly prior to, and near the location of, the gas leaks off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm, Peter Schmidt, an Uppsala University seismologist, told news wire AFP.

“The first happened at 2:03am just southeast of Bornholm with a magnitude of 1.9. Then we also saw one at 7:04pm on Monday night, another event a little further north and that seems to have been a bit bigger. Our calculations show a magnitude of 2.3,” Schmidt said.

“With energy releases this big there isn’t much else than a blast that could cause it,” he added.

WATCH: Baltic Sea foams with gas from broken Nord Stream pipeline

Schmidt explained that since the releases were “very sudden” and not a “slow collapse”, the events were “in all likelihood some type of blasts.”

The Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) also confirmed it had registered “a smaller explosion” in the early hours of Monday, “followed by a more powerful on Monday evening.”

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines, which are operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom, are not currently in operation, they both still contain gas which has been leaking out since Monday.

Photos taken by the Danish military on Tuesday showed large masses of bubbles on the surface of the water emanating from the three leaks located in Sweden’s and Denmark’s economic zones, spreading from 200 to 1,000 metres in diameter.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Copenhagen was not ruling out sabotage of the gas pipelines between Russia and Europe.

READ ALSO: Gas leaks cause bubbling up in Baltic Sea as Danish PM says ‘unlikely due to chance’