Moving toward a renewable future
August 13, 2010
By Ken Dragoon of Renewable Northwest Project: The deadly West Virginia coal mine explosion and the Gulf of Mexico oil drilling disaster remind us that it’s time to end our dependence on fossil fuels. In June, President Barack Obama said we cannot consign our children to this future. Last February, I was invited along with a handful of other Americans to learn first-hand how one country is replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.
Denmark’s dedication to ending fossil fuel use was born out of the 1974 oil crisis. Back then, more than 90 percent of Danish energy came from petroleum. The economic effects of the oil crisis threatened the small country’s national security. Cars were banned entirely from streets on Sundays. Leaders across the political spectrum agreed to end dependence on oil as a national security measure. Climate concerns about burning coal and widespread opposition to nuclear power led the country to choose to rely entirely on renewable energy.
Today, wind power supplies more than 20 percent of the electric energy consumed in Denmark. In 10 years, it will be 50 percent. And the country won’t stop there. Indeed, the government’s goal is a carbon-free power grid, with most of the energy coming from wind power. Denmark is leveraging its green power grid by adopting electric vehicles as the main mode of personal motorized transportation (two-fifths of commuters are on bicycles). Efficiency is key too; power plant “waste heat” is captured to provide hot water and space heat through district heating systems that already serve 60 percent of all buildings. Read more