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DONG Energy shows off(shore wind) at COP-15

12/11/09

How does a company that once stood for Denmark Oil & Natural Gas morph into a leader in wind technology?  Recognizing the systematic changes of energy production and moving forward….

DONG Energy's 20 turbine, offshore pilot project on tour at COP-15.

DONG Energy supplies over half of Denmark’s electricity and is a major player across the European Union.  Historically and presently, fossil fuels have been a big part of DONG’s operation, but fifteen years ago, the company started to venture into wind power.  Five years after that they decided to construct turbines off the coast of Copenhagen where the wind was faster.

Up close and personal with twenty 2 MW wind turbines.

The initial pilot project—consisting of 20, 2 MW turbines—is still producing energy and is available for tour to COP-15 participants throughout the conference.  Two years ago, DONG declared their test run a success and promptly built about 60 turbines in even deeper water with even higher generating capacity.  In addition to the two Copenhagen farms, DONG has increased their renewable output to 15% of their portfolio and aims to reach 85% by 2040.

Onboard a small boat and within reach—literally within reach—of an offshore turbine, Soren Dale Pedersen (a DONG wind representative) explained to me how his company had been involved in the manufacturing design, liability, instillation, upkeep, and electricity generation of the offshore wind turbines.  Pedersen shrugged off the consequences of higher rates from renewable energy and preferred to talk about what had to be done.  DONG’s fossil fuel power plants—like the one just on shore of the marine wind farm—are getting old and will not find the financing that made them as cheap as they once were.  In other words, wind was a sound economic and environmental choice.

Of course, being state owned and providing over 50% of your country’s energy gives you a little flexibility.  Having customers is nearly guaranteed.  Even then, however, the example can be followed.  Denamrk’s focus on wind has allowed Vestas—once a manufacturer of agricultural equipment—to transform itself into one of the world’s leading producer of turbines.

The Midwest United States, where this blog calls home, is a manufacturing powerhouse of the nation.  Although wind turbines have begun to sprout up, the production has been left mainly to foreign companies (including Vestas) while domestic manufacturers have not changed their assembly lines.  I have heard—first hand–wind industry lobbysists propose to the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce that wind turbine parts could easily be produced inside the Hoosier state, but we are still waiting.

The new replaces the old.

All photos taken by the author (Jay Wellik).

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