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Renewable Energy Advocates Get Upclose Look at Middelgrunden Windfarm.

Denmark has been a leader in renewable and clean energy for over 40 years.  While some policies were perhaps misguided, like banning car use on Sundays in the 1970’s, slow but steady expansion of the country’s renewable energy portfolio has allowed the country to maintain its emission levels while boasting of continuing healthy economic expansion.  One of the best examples of the country’s advances in renewables technology is the Middelgrunden windfarm located just offshore in Copenhagen’s harbor.  Built in 2000, it currently has twenty 2 MW turbines that generate a total of 40 MW of power (about 3% of Denmark’s total requirements).    This farm, along with others, provides 20% of Denmark’s total capacity and is used alongside waste, biogas, straw, and cogeneration (for heating).  Some areas, like the “Danish Reference Area” which includes Thisted Municipality and Samso Island, already produce over 100% of their own power and 85% of their own heat from renewable sources.

Of course, there are several issues with maintaining an area with intermittent power sources, but grid operators like Electricity System Development are working on natural energy storage methods in order to keep electricity output constant.  One such arrangement utilizes pumps that channel water into a reservoir for later generation at hydropower dams.

Of course, its nice to imagine all of these facilities in our heads, but how often does one get a chance to go actually see facilities like these first hand?  Fortunately, Michael Cote and I were able to obtain two of the coveted spots on a recent tour of Middelgrunden here at COP15 through EnergieTours, a joint venture between the Danish Wind Energy Association and co-owner of the farm, Dong Energy.

Our bus arrived at a nearby harbor that, strangely, was located right next to a large coal plant.  We were loaded onto a large boat and treated to a lengthy presentation on the farm, its finances and numerous other statistics.  Lunch and refreshments (Fanta in glass bottles!) were provided and we were able to see the entire farm.  Making a loop, we went around the entire chain of 20 windmills, getting close enough to one of them to jump, Bruce Willis-style, onto the base.  I’m pretty sure I’ll never get a chance to tour an offshore windfarm again, so I definitely leapt at the opportunity.  It was great to see these amazing structures up close.  While a fan (pun intended) of wind energy before, the beauty and functionality of these large-scale farms is something that continues to need preaching at home.  Check out the video we made, there are some great shots of the farm from all angles as we approached by boat.

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5 Comments

  1. Derek
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Nice Post! You just had to throw the Cat man on there didn’t you… Hippie! But for real, that’s a pretty incredible experience, and you got some good footage… Did you get a still shot of that scene with the coal plant in the background? That would be a pretty conflicting shot.

  2. Caroline
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Dustin that is really amazing. What was the sound like and how fast were the windmills turning? Did they mention the cost of yearly up-keep versus the amount of energy produced?

    Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me one of the most environmentally-friendly ways of producing energy. And despite what people say, I think they are pretty.

    Great post! Seems like you are learning a lot.

  3. Alison
    Posted December 13, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    The wind turbines are a great idea…I see a lot of them here in southern Minnesota. Call me simple, but using the wind for energy seems to be a lot better idea than burning fossil fuels. What’s the big hold up on implementing more of the turbines?

  4. Jack
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Keep up the good work, DB.

  5. Alison
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Has anybody at the conference mentioned the need for the sustainable mining of pure earth needed for the magnets needed to build a windmill?


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