Could Denmark suffer electricity blackouts this winter?

Denmark’s Energy Agency says it has plans in place to implement short, localised power cuts in case of acute electricity shortages this winter.

Could Denmark suffer electricity blackouts this winter?
Short, localised electricity blackouts in Denmark this winter are unlikely but the risk has increased, according the the national energy board. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The director of the Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen), Kristoffer Böttzauw, told broadcaster DR that Denmark could experience a shortage of electricity for limited periods this winter. But the risk of the electricity supply to homes being cut remains low, he added.

“This is the first time in many, many years that we are in a situation where we genuinely are looking at whether it could be necessary [to cut power to homes],” Böttzauw told DR.

“If we now hit a very hard, cold winter, and the wind is calm at the same time, so we don’t have energy from the wind turbines, then we will be in a place where we have a stressed energy system,” he said.

Current prognoses from the Energy Agency are that the situation is unlikely to be severe enough for power cuts, but the risk of short blackouts has nevertheless increased.

Authorities can usually tell about a day in advance if demand is likely to exceed supply, giving them time to ask large industrial consumers to cut down, the energy agency director told DR. 

If this measure is unsuccessful, there could be blackouts for private customers. They would last two hours at a time for specific, small areas across the country, and customers aren’t notified in advance. 

The blackouts would affect 10 to 20 percent of customers in either half or all of Denmark at one time, DR writes. The extent of the blackout could cover an individual neighbourhood or part of a city at a time, Böttzauw said.

“If there is then a need to continue to shut off the electricity, it will be new areas that are affected,” he said.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When should I turn on my heating in Denmark this year?

Although essential buildings like hospitals are not protected from the power cuts, they have emergency supplies available.

Böttzauw stressed that power cuts would only be used as a last measure in an emergency situation to prevent the entire system from collapsing.

Shut offs of this kind were described as unlikely by Brian Vad Mathiesen, professor of energy planning at Aalborg University.

“It’s very unrealistic that we’ll be in that situation. But it would be irresponsible if authorities weren’t ready if it was something we had to do,” Mathiesen said to DR.

“I expect there to be blackouts in Germany and France in certain areas but certainly don’t expect it to happen in Denmark,” he said.

He added that “additional elements for the perfect storm” would be needed for Denmark to find itself in a situation where a power cut to homes was required.

“That could be a lot of energy use in Norway, Sweden and Germany at the same time as some outages at power plants here and there. That could mean that countries would have problems with their supply, and that might affect Denmark,” he said.

READ MORE: Danish heating company asks customers not to turn on heating

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Danish Energy Agency advises homes with gas heating to conserve

The Danish Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen) has issued guidelines to households heated by individual gas heaters in a bid to help them avoid very high bills.

Danish Energy Agency advises homes with gas heating to conserve

Around 240,000 households in Denmark will receive advice from the agency by physical or digital post, the agency said in a statement on Friday.

Gas prices in Denmark are currently rising as temperatures drop and energy production from wind turbines falls due to weather conditions.


“The Danish Energy Agency views it as an important task to help people like those with individual gas heaters [Danish: gasfyr] through good advice about how they best can reduce their heating consumption and take the worst off their gas bill,” head of office Vincent Rudnicki said in the statement.

The information letters are part of a national energy saving campaign which seeks to cut energy consumption during a period when prices can go through large variations.

When gas prices reached their 2022 peak in August, one megawatt hour of gas cost over 300 euros according to the Dutch exchange TTF.

At the beginning of December, the price has increased to 131 euros per megawatt hour after going through a period with lower prices during the autumn.

Although the price remains low compared to August, it is higher than it was two years ago, according to comments previously given to news wire Ritzau by Sydbank’s senior economist Søren Kristensen.

Kristensen said that the cost of heating a housing in Denmark is now 10,000 kroner per year higher on average than it was in the years prior to the energy crisis.

He also said that the winter is likely to push prices up from their current level.

“That will unfortunately mean that it will in no way be a cheap winter in relation to heating up the house or using electricity,” he said.

The Danish Energy Agency information letter will be sent to persons who own single-family houses which are heated by natural gas heaters, according to information stored on the national register BBR (Bygnings- og Boligregistret).

“At this time we have particular focus on those who live in villas or semi-detached houses because they have seen the largest of all the gas bill increases,” Rudnicki said.

In some cases, persons who no longer have gas heating will receive the letter if the BBR registry has not been updated, he noted.

Advice included in the information packs includes reducing temperature, using less hot water and having gas boilers services.

The saving tips may also be relevant for people who live in other types of housing, such as apartments, rental houses or terraced houses, according to the Energy Agency.