THE nation that leads the world in wind-farm development is going cool
on the environmentally friendly source of power.
Since the boom year of 2000, when as many as 748 turbines were erected,
the number being built in Denmark has steadily fallen. So far this year,
only six new wind turbines have been put up.
While many countries around the world are clamouring to buy Danish wind
turbines, Denmark's government is finding it difficult to convince its
own population to accept an increase in the domestic use of the green
Describing turbines as "poorly located, noisy and unsightly",
a number of local authorities, backed by grass-roots campaigners, are
rejecting plans for new wind farms.
The situation has not been helped by a 2004 decision - the architect
of which was Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister - to remove
state subsidies for wind power, leaving it to market forces.
Two years on, the ruling Social Liberal-Conservative coalition appears
ready to accept its mistake but, despite intense government efforts
to promote clean technology, local opposition to a new wave of wind-power
construction has reached fever pitch. Leading politicians say that is
potentially catastrophic for the Danish energy sector.
The situation has resonance in Scotland, because Denmark is about a
decade ahead in terms of wind-farm usage and the current dispute is
indicative of what may transpire here.
After an about-turn on the issue in the summer, Mr Fogh Rasmussen says
he is committed to reducing Denmark's dependence on traditional fossil
fuels. According to a forthcoming initiative, the government plans to
meet 30 per cent of the country's fuel needs with alternative forms
of energy by 2025.
According to both councillors and local residents, the government's
decision to launch a new generation of 150m "super windmills"
is as firmly rooted in economics as ideology.
Citing environment ministry figures, which confirm that offshore windmills
cost nine times as much land-based ones, opponents have vehemently criticised
the government for its willingness to ignore strict local authority
planning guidelines in order to save money.
Notwithstanding these concerns, the government seems unrepentant about
its plans to target rural areas for intensified energy development.
Defending this decision, environment ministry officials have been at
pains to underline the fact that many Danish wind farms are no longer
energy-efficient and are in need of replacement if the government is
to live up to its commitments.
Connie Hedegaard, the environment minister, is ready to overrule attempts
by councillors to delay new-generation technology.
"We simply cannot continue to lead the world in the field of wind-power
technology if we don't even make room for wind parks in our own country,"
she said. "The local authorities have a gigantic responsibility
for the development of sustainable energy and the success of wind turbines.
If they can't find a solution in the near future, we [the Danish government]
will pass a directive on the matter."
Ms Hedegaard is awaiting the findings of a special wind energy committee,
which will report later this month.