Ding Dong, by 2050 Danish CO2 emissions will be gone
København, Denmark - Photo credit, Witizia & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the twenty second edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Denmark ranks fourth highest in Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and this is the 4th time in a row that the country has climbed the biennial index following a ranking low of 26th place in 2008.
Paris Agreement Targets
Similarly to Sweden, as part of Denmark’s Paris Agreement commitment, the country has pledged to completely phase out Co2 emissions by 2050. Denmark is one of a handful of nations who have already reduced their CO2 emissions from energy combustion below 1990 levels.
On a visit to Copenhagen in 2010, I saw firsthand the city’s strong cycling culture. The city has almost 400km of cycle paths and about 40% of its residents commute to work by bike. It is easy to see why so many commuters use a bicycle as their mode of transport, the width of cycle paths are equivalent to that of a standard traffic lane for automated vehicles and the cycle paths are standalone from the roads used by automated vehicles, thus making cycling a safe way of travelling to and from work.
In 2000, electricity produced from wind turbines accounted for 1/8th of Denmark’s overall figure with the remaining 7/8th sourced from power stations and industrial producers. The intervening 16 years have seen a significant shift in the energy production mix with wind turbines now the source for 44% of Denmark’s electricity production following a three fold increase in wind turbine electricity production. Another interesting point to note is that solar energy now accounts for 2.6% of total electricity production, this is from a base of virtually no solar energy production in 2012.
Dong Energy (Danish Oil & Natural Gas), who traditionally were a fossil-fuel powered energy utility is now the world’s largest offshore wind farm company. In the last 10 years, its proportion of investment in wind farms has risen from 16% in 2006 to 75% in 2015. Dong will sell off its remaining Oil and Gas assets by the end of the year. Dong will cease using coal at its power stations by 2023 and replace it with wood.
Dong is also investing in the ‘world’s first full-scale enzyme-based waste treatment plant’ in Northwich, UK. The technology is called Renescience and it separates household waste from recycles at treatment facilities and generates energy at the same time.
Transitioning to zero waste is big news in Denmark. According to the latest Eurostat statistics for municipal waste, Denmark generated 789 kg of waste per capita in 2015, the highest in the EU and well above the EU-27 average of 476 kg per capita. Positive steps are being taken to address this such as a 25% reduction in food waste over a five year period to 2016. Denmark’s first food surplus supermarket called Wefood was opened in 2016, with stock selling for 30 – 50% below recommended retail prices. Bo Welfare, a social housing project purchases fruit and vegetables with damaged packaging or close to its sell by date from supermarkets and resells it at reduced prices at their pop up shops. Initiatives like those introduced by Wefood and Bo Welfare have helped with the reduction in food waste.
Denmark’s target to be CO2 emissions free by 2050 is ambitious. However, it is encouraging to see that CO2 emissions are already below 1990 levels. The cycling culture has helped reduced transport emissions. The shift towards wind turbines is greatly reducing the dependence on fossil fuels as a means for energy generation. Converting waste to energy will further bolster the drive towards zero emissions by 2050.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and converting it into concrete.