Denmark Considers Phasing Out Coal

by | Nov 4, 2014

Coal plantDenmark should ban coal use by 2025, according to Helveg Petersen, Denmark’s climate, energy and building minister, as reported by Reuters.

The cost of phasing out coal would not be significant, according to Petersen.

Wind turbines are set to generate more than half of Denmark’s electricity by 2020.

Petersen’s ministry is studying details of how a coal phase-out would work before unveiling a formal plan. Denmark imports about 6 million metric tons of coal a year from Russia, so a ban would cut dependence on Russia for energy.

The Danish Energy Association, representing energy firms, said a faster phase-out of coal would bring risks that wind turbines could not meet demand on calm days. Coal now generates about a third of Danish electricity.

Petersen said that some coal-fired plants could shift to burning wood as a backup.

Denmark’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 25 percent from 1990 to 2012, among the steepest falls of any EU nation. It is aiming for a 40 percent cut from 1990 by 2020, matching the EU’s goal for 2030.

However, even though Denmark’s greenhouse gas emissions are falling sharply, the heavy dependence on coal means per capita emissions of 9.25 metric tons in 2012 were still above the European Union average of 8.98.

According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s synthesis report released in Copenhagen on Sunday, global emissions should drop by 40 to 70 percent between 2010 and 2050, and hit zero by 2100 to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by the turn of the century,

The latest report sums up the three IPCC reports published over the past year and is intended to serve as a guide for the Paris climate talks in 2015, at which about 200 governments are slated to reach a deal to combat climate change.

Photo Credit: Coal power plant via Shutterstock

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