Denmark keen to join with Baltic countries on wind energy

Denmark is keen to accelerate joint projects with countries in and bordering the Baltic Sea region to increase offshore wind power production, energy minister Dan Jørgensen said ahead of an upcoming summit.

Denmark keen to join with Baltic countries on wind energy
Danish wind turbines in the North Sea. Copenhagen wants to increase offshore energy production with countries neighbouring the Baltic Sea. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is scheduled later this month to host an international summit on wind power in the Baltic Sea.

The summit, which takes place on Denmark’s Baltic Sea island Bornholm on August 30th, will convene government leaders and political representatives from Germany, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and the EU Commission.

Energy security in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the climate crisis will be the focus of the summit, Climate, Energy and Critical Supplies Minister Dan Jørgensen told news wire Ritzau.

The Baltic Sea has large, untapped potential for energy production, according to Jørgensen.

“This is about accelerating partnerships with the EU that border the Baltic Sea. That’s an objective that is inherently good because it’s always could to work together on energy,” he said.

A framework for increasing sustainable energy, particularly wind power, will be a priority at the summit, the minister said.

A total of 2.8 gigawatts of wind power are currently produced in the Baltic Sea according to the Danish energy ministry.

Potentially, that could be increased to 93 gigawatts by 2050, an EU Commission assessment has found.

An increase in energy production of this magnitude would lessen the reliance on Russian gas in EU countries.

“Since the Baltic countries, for example, don’t traditionally use wind power, there’s an enormous potential for this helping to make them independent [of Russian gas],” Jørgensen said.

Denmark is currently the largest actor in Baltic Sea energy production, he said.

“But we also expect to get bigger. If we are to get bigger, it is clear that we have to work with others. Because we must, if we want the biggest projects, have a buyer for the very large amount of green energy that will be produced,” he said.

No specific details of the kind of agreement that can be expected from the summit were given by Jørgensen. Neither did he give detail of what Denmark might be expected to offer in any deal.

Earlier this year, Frederiksen hosted a green energy summit in western Danish city Esbjerg, at which the government signed an agreement with Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany for a ten-fold increase of offshore wind power capacity in the North Sea to 150 gigawatts by 2050.

The Baltic Sea does not have the same potential, Jørgensen said.

“The North Sea has historically been better at development than the Baltic Sea. And there is also a larger potential in the North Sea than there is in the Baltic Sea,” he said, while also noting that a potential capacity of 93 gigawatts is “significant”.

“You must remember that one gigawatt today is enough to deliver electricity to over one million – maybe up to 1.5 million – households,” he said.

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

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Why the energy crisis isn’t over yet in Denmark

Denmark has cut the majority of its consumption of Russian gas but it is too early to disregard all energy saving measures, experts advise.

Why the energy crisis isn’t over yet in Denmark

Gas stocks in Denmark remain high despite the winter having reached the halfway mark, but it would not be prudent to drop good energy saving habits, broadcaster DR writes.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 40 percent of the natural gas used by Europe came from Russia. That has now been reduced to around 8-10 percent, DR reports.

This means that the EU has moved towards its target of becoming independent of Russian gas, a senior consultant in the Danish energy sector told the broadcaster.

“We have put plans into action and with the amount of gas we are saving now, we are almost at the point of being able to go without Russian gas,” Kristian Rune Poulsen of Green Power Denmark, the interest organisation for the energy sector, said.

The reason for this is that imports of liquid gas from North America and the Middle East have been increased, but also because consumers and businesses across Europe have managed to reduce consumption.

“In Denmark, we used 37 percent less gas in 2022 compared with 2021. How much of this is actual savings and how much is from switching to other fuels, we don’t yet know for sure,” Poulsen said.

Europe currently has good gas stocks and prices are expected to be stable for the rest of the winter.

READ ALSO: Low European gas prices ‘will benefit’ energy consumers in Denmark

But it’s too early to call off the energy crisis and turn up thermostats without a care, according to a number of experts who spoke to DR.

“There’s no doubt that it’s a huge success that we’ve succeeded in saving 20-25 percent on gas and significantly increased imports of liquid gas,” Brian Vad Mathiesen, energy researcher at Aalborg University, said to DR.

“But we still get Russian gas through Turkey and Ukraine, and countries like Hungary and Romania are still dependent on Russian gas,” he said.

Moscow could therefore still use gas as leverage to drive a wedge between European countries, he stated.

A senior researcher in international relations also said that measures to conserve gas should continue.

“We’ve been good at cutting back. But if we stop saving now, we’ll run into problems next year,” Trine Villumsen Berling of the Danish Institute for International Studies told DR.

Much of the gas currently stored was originally supplied by Russia, she noted. Power plants still need to use gas to produce energy when weather conditions reduce wind output, she also said.

“We need Danes to still have those good habits. We must remain aware of how we use energy and how much we turn on the heating for quite a while yet,” she said.

“We must remember that in future we won’t get much gas from Russia and that we are only in this healthy situation because we have been good at conserving,” added Poulsen of Green Power Denmark.