The Danish Energy Agency:  

An Energy System without Fossil Fuels is Technically Possible

2014.05.22

The Danish Energy Agency has published an energy-scenario report and five sub-analyses on the energy system of the future and the challenges in the process of phasing out fossil fuels before 2050.

It is technically possible to construct an energy system which is not based on coal, oil and natural gas. This has been confirmed in a report issued by the Danish Energy Agency entitled "Energiscenarier for 2020, 2035 og 2050" (Energy Scenarios for 2020, 2035 and 2050), which calculates the additional costs of an energy supply independent of fossil fuels at between DKK 6 and 29 bn. in 2050, depending on the choice of green energy system.

Green energy scenarios

 The Danish Government entered into a historically broad and ambitious energy agreement in 2012 and, as part of the agreement, decided to draw up five energy analyses of the electricity grid, district heating, bioenergy, biogas and the gas infrastructure. The analyses are to contribute to ensuring that conversion of the energy system to renewable energy is as cost-effective as possible.

The energy scenario report confirms that, as the conversion will take time, shortly after 2020, it will be necessary to decide whether the future energy system is to be an electricity-based wind power system or a fuel-based biomass system. A wind-based fully electrified system will have good fuel supply security but will be challenged in terms of security of electricity supply. On the other hand, a bioenergy-based system will require large imports of biomass and it will be challenged in terms of fuel supply security and sustainability.

High security of electricity supply in Denmark

Danish security of electricity supply is among the top three in Europe, with plenty of capacity at the thermal plants, a high proportion of underground cables in the distribution grid and extensive cross-border connections. The report analysing the functionality of the electricity grid shows that it will be possible to maintain security of supply at the current level for the next 10 years without new political initiatives other than those in the 2012 energy agreement.

Increasing use of biomass

Biomass will account for a significant part of the energy mix in the energy system of the future. The analysis from the Danish Energy Agency on bioenergy in Denmark assesses that, in the short term, use of bioenergy will imply low emissions of greenhouse gases, as to a large extent consumption will be covered by residues and waste products and the large power plants will be able to procure biomass with a favourable climate profile. However, in the longer term, greater consumption of biomass for energy and transport will mean that there is a risk of increasing negative climate impacts if global climate regulation is not implemented.

Natural gas replaced by renewable energy gases

Consumption of natural gas is expected to fall dramatically from 2020, as coal and natural gas are phased out in electricity and heat supply. Instead, it will increasingly be possible to use the gas system to distribute renewable-energy gases such as biogas. This is apparent from the analysis of the future use of the gas infrastructure.

The Biogas Taskforce assesses that biogas production will more than double up to 2020 and extensive upgrade projects to use biogas in the natural gas system are now underway.

Increased district heating cover but falling consumption

Although district-heating cover is expected to rise, overall consumption of district heating will drop compared with today because of energy efficiency improvements. Coal and natural gas in production of district heating will be phased out and replaced with heat pumps, solar heating and biomass.

Read the summary – Energy Scenarios for 2020, 2035 and 2050

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