Wind Energy – The Case of Denmark

Denmark is one of the leading producers of wind energy in the world. This is true not in absolute, but in relative terms. Being a small country Denmark simply does not have the capacity to compete with larger countries such as Spain or Germany when it comes to total output. The share of wind power in the electricity grid was 20.1 % in 2010. Portugal and Spain, the numbers two and three in the ranking, had shares of 17.0 and 14.6 %, respectively.

In a previous post we examined the specific performance of German wind farms. Now we will compare those findings with a similar investigation for Denmark. Fig. 1 shows the specific output of Danish wind energy in MWh/MW between 1990 and 2010. As usual we have applied our model to smooth out distortions caused by the building up of new capacity over a year. The remaining fluctuations are due to varying wind availability.

Fig. 1 Specific output of Danish wind farms in MWh/MW installed.

Fig. 2 gives a direct comparison between Germany and Denmark for the period 2001 till 2010. One striking feature of this picure is that Danish performance is consistently and considerably higher than the German one. On the averge, Danish facilities have an almost 29 % higher output in MWh/MW installed. Thus, their efficiency and productivity are much better than the ones of their southern neighbour.

Fig. 2 Specific output of wind farms in Germany and Denmark.

The average performance of German facilities was 1571 MWh/MW whereas Danish wind farms produced some 2026 MWh per MW installed. One of the reasons for this discrepancy may lie in the fact that Denmark has a higher share of offshore wind farms which tend to have a higher efficiency than the ones based on land.

2 comments on “Wind Energy – The Case of Denmark

  1. I guess it all depends in how you decide to measure efficiency. In MWh/MW danish efficiency would seem higher, what happens if you transform it in economic efficiency Euro/MWh? Does the relationship hold?

    • You raised a very interesting question indeed. My definition of efficiency is rather technical. However, if you look at the matter from a more economical perspective, then EUR/MWh or EUR/MW may be a better measure. And given the costs for producing energy those measures may even be more meaningful when comparing renewables (or wind, in particular) with conventional energies.
      When you talk about EUR/MWh you also have to define which Euros to take into account. Pure investment costs only, or subsidies or both? Which one would you prefer? Do you have any data available?

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