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Danish report finds 100% renewables feasible by 2050

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Denmark_wind_Siemens-150x150A new report by the Danish Energy Agency has found it would be technically possible to construct a secure and reliable national energy system based on 100 per cent renewables by 2050.

The report, Energy Scenarios for 2020, 2035 and 2050, compares the feasibility and cost of replacing coal, oil and natural gas with various different green energy scenarios, ranging from an electricity-based wind-power system to a fuel-based biomass system.

According to the report, all of the scenarios meet the vision of a fossil fuel independent energy system for Denmark by 2050, as well as the government’s goal of fossil fuel independent electricity and heating by 2035.

The costs of a fossil fuel independent energy supply in 2050 were calculated at around $A26.8-31.4 billion (DKK 136-159 billion)  – an amount, says the report, that includes investments, operating costs, fuel (including distribution), CO2, costs of energy savings, propulsion systems for all types of transport, energy-producing facilities in electricity, district heating, process and individual heating. Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 12.17.13 PM

To meet the 2050 target, however, the report notes that a decision on the shape of Denmark’s energy future would need to be made shortly after 2020.

In the wind scenario, the report finds estimated that wind power capacity would have to be expanded by around one 400MW offshore wind farm a year from 2020 to 2050, while obsolete turbines would have to be replaced.

Despite this, the report finds that wind power has relatively low production costs per kWh in 2035 and 2050 – albeit slightly higher in total than the biomass scenario, due to derived costs of the expansion.

It would only take a 35 per cent increase in the price of biomass, however, for the wind and biomass scenarios to be equal. Similarly, a halving of the electricity grid costs would also make the wind and biomass scenarios equal.

In the hydrogen scenario, the report notes that expansion would have to take place at an even faster rate, while in the biomass scenario, the expansion rate would amount to one 400MW farm every three years.

All scenarios (except the fossil scenario) assume a total capacity of 2000MW photovoltaic solar modules in 2050, which the report says provide a system-related advantage when combined with wind power, due to differing production profiles.

And all of the scenarios assume ‘large’ energy savings, says the DEA. “Extra-large energy savings will lead to an increase in total costs in the wind scenario. However, there is large uncertainty about the costs of savings. If these costs are one-third lower, the total system costs with large and extra-large savings, respectively, will be equal,” says the report.

Consumption of natural gas was expected to fall dramatically from 2020, as coal and natural gas were phased out and the country’s gas infrastructure was instead used to distribute renewable-energy gases like biogas.

Electricity storage is not included in the Danish scenarios, the DEA finding that use of the electricity market – including hydropower storage
facilities abroad – and flexible electricity consumption were cheaper solutions.

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  • schmoepooh

    Since the beginning of the first permanent towns (fortified usually) after farming started, the “state” such as it was has sought to lock in compliance and social control with a monopolisable indispensable asset. In Mesopotamia it was fortified grain storage and irrigation but also standing armies, prostitution and religion (divine wisdom and intercession). Our leaders are not going to concede the grid system easily.

    • SirPete Gossner

      Once “our leaders” realise that the grid is actually a network (many nodes in many directions) _perhaps_ they will move to a more appropriate model.

      What happens when there is an abundance of pollution free (or at least manageable level) energy ?

      Does the current model actually forbade this ?

      They will have to accept *reality* eventually.
      Meantime we should all just get on with it.

  • Matthew Wright

    What the Danish Energy Agency has failed to do is to take into account oversizing. The solar contribution could be considerably more (remember Australia in 2014 has 3,000MW of solar.

    So if the 2,000MW of inverters had 6,000MW of panels connected then the contribution would be the equivalent of over 4,000MW of PV. A >200% increase with about the same grid integration costs.

  • Henry WA

    Total Solar capacity of just 2000MW by 2015 seems absurdly low even for cloudy Denmark. However it is not sensible to oversize by connecting 6000MW of panels to only 2000MW of inverters.

    • SirPete Gossner

      Henry it just means that the inverters can deliver all they are rated at. (100% duty cycle if you like)

      Sure more inverter capacity would be cool !

  • Henry WA

    Sorry that should have read 2000MW by 2050. Stupid error