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For One Day, Denmark Whipped Up Enough Wind Power to Run the Entire Country

Wind power supplied a record 54.8 percent of the Denmark's electricity last month.

by Mat McDermott
Jan 21 2014, 8:40pm
Photo via Flickr/News Oresund

Here's another feather in Denmark’s green cap. The national nonprofit that supplies the nation’s electricity and natural gas, Energinet, reported that wind power supplied a record 54.8 percent of the country's electricity in the month of December. During the Christmas week, when electricity demand is historically lower due to holiday business closures, wind power provided a whopping 68.5 percent of Denmark’s electricity.

On the best day of the month, December 21, wind power generated 102 percent of electricity demand—more energy was generated than needed. In fact, for one hour on December 1, wind power produced over 30 percent more electricity than was needed.

The record-setting month follows a banner year for wind power in Denmark. Wind generated 11.1 billion kWh of electricity in 2013, from an installed capacity of just under 4.8 gigawatts, representing 33.2 percent of electricity consumption for the year. Last year, Denmark installed an additional 600 megawatts of wind power capacity. It also represents the serious commitment to renewable energy by the government, which has established a target of 50 percent of all electricity coming from wind power by 2020.

Energinet points out that these aren't only national records, but world records too. For comparison, in December in the UK wind power provided 10 percent of the nation’s electricity, with the one-day record at 13 percent. On November 8, Ireland set a national one-day record with wind power providing more than 45 percent of the nation’s electricity. Spain, which historically been one of Europe’s largest wind powers, has produced national records of just under 30 percent of electricity from wind for the year, and daily records of just over 40 percent.

In terms of overall wind power capacity, Denmark is just on the cusp of being in top 10. China, the US, Germany, Spain, India, and the UK all easily have over double the wind power capacity of Denmark, according to year-end 2012 stats, the latest global stats available. The top three countries generating the most power from wind produce over 10 times more than Denmark.

But the prime advantage Denmark has here is its size. On a per-capita basis, wind power production is the highest in the world, making its 4.8 gigawatts go a long way. Elsewhere, at 75 gigawatts, wind power is China’s third largest source of electricity, greater than nuclear. In the US, 60 gigawatts of wind power represents over one-quarter of all renewable energy production, but that's still a miniscule portion of all electricity generated in the country.