Promoting Sustainable Electricity in Europe
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Promoting Sustainable Electricity in Europe

Challenging the Path Dependence of Dominant Energy Systems

Edited by William M. Lafferty and Audun Ruud

This is a timely and comparative assessment of initiatives to promote renewable electricity sources (RES-E) in eight European countries. Carried out by the ProSus research programme at the University of Oslo in cooperation with leading research institutions in each country, the book focuses on the promotional schemes used to foster RES-E in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden. The book is unique in that it monitors progress on implementing the EU RES-E Directive in relation to the impact of the ‘dominant energy systems’ in each country. Employing notions of ‘path dependency/path creation’, the analysis demonstrates that crucial lessons for promoting RES-E are to be found in the contextual conditions of national and regional settings; conditions that qualify the effects of more general, market-oriented schemes. The conclusions reached are of direct relevance for the ongoing debate as to the most effective policy instruments for achieving sustainable energy and climate policies in Europe.
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Chapter 3: Denmark: Path-Creation Dynamics and Winds of Change

Peter Karnøe and Adam Buchhorn


Peter Karnøe and Adam Buchhorn INTRODUCTION Denmark represents a remarkable success story in the transition from a fossil-fuel-based energy system to an energy system based on a high penetration of renewable energy sources for electricity (RES-E). As shown in Table 3.1, RES-E accounted for 28.5 per cent of national electricity production in 2005 compared to 5.6 per cent in 1994. Biomass and wind-power technology are the primary renewable energy sources. Electricity generated from wind power accounted for 20 per cent in 2006, the largest national share of wind-generated electricity in the world. The wind-power industry is currently a major industrial cluster in Denmark with more than 20 000 high-tech jobs and large shares of innovation and research funds. The company Vestas Wind Systems is a global leader in a multi-billion-dollar export market. The struggle to make RES-E a relevant and interesting alternative to fossil fuels began some 25–30 years ago. Up to the oil crisis of October 1973 Denmark had no official energy policy. Energy supply was 99 per cent dependent on imported oil, and it became a highly prioritized political goal to reduce national dependence on fossil fuels. In 1994 nearly 95 per cent of the Danish electricity production was sourced from fossil fuels (see Table 3.1). Traditionally this was imported, but since the 1980s natural gas has also been extracted from the Danish sector of the North Sea. Natural gas has increased its share due to its environmental properties compared to oil and coal, and...

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