Business World

Wednesday 17 September 2014

How the Danes got the public on side with wind farms

Published 14/07/2014 | 02:30

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The Danish island of Samso has switched to 100pc renewable energy with a €41m investment in wind turbines

IN Denmark, wind-farm developers are obliged to auction a minimum of 20pc of the shares in a wind turbine over 25 metres high to neighbours living within 4.5km of the mast.

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In addition, a fund is created to enhance local amenities, and a compensation scheme put in place for owners whose properties have fallen in value as a result of the development.

The move came after a 2008 decision to concentrate wind turbines only in specific locations. It resulted in large utility companies seeking to shut down production in some areas and develop larger wind farms.

The move took place with little or no consultation, and created "strong ill-feeling" towards wind energy. The NESC says development of wind power in Denmark has been characterised by strong public involvement since 1994, and that suitable areas are identified in consultation with local communities before developers are involved.

Funding is in place to carry out analysis by local wind-turbine owner associations – made up of a majority of residents – and local people are given an option to purchase shares in the farm.

One island of 4,000 residents, Samso, has switched to a 100pc renewable energy strategy and invested €41m developing 21 turbines and district heating systems powered by straw. It now exports power, and each turbine is owned by a co-operative, individual, local business or municipality.

Germany, meanwhile, has vowed to phase out nuclear power and rely on renewables as its primary source of energy.

More than half of all renewable energy projects are owned by individuals and farmers, which has generated competition with the major utility companies which have lost 20pc of market share to "citizen-owned" energy projects.

Irish Independent

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