Let us put down the myths in the energy debate

Date: 14 November 2014

Analyses by the Danish Energy Agency show us that we can reach the goal and become independent of fossil fuels in 2020 almost without it costing more. We have to focus on wind, biomass and a smart energy system.

In a feature in Danish national newspaper Berlingske, Peter Heymann Andersen and Anders Dyrelund, Ramboll, write about eight myths in the energy debate, and how these myths and rules mean that the conversion seems to be more expensive than necessary. The two authors of the feature therefore call for an unbiased debate and a termination of the myths.

According to Andersen and Dyrelund, technically it is not a problem to reach the 20-20 goal. The challenge is to do it in the most economic way for society, so that we do not lose welfare and competitiveness in the process.

The myths include the complete end of fossil fuels. According to the two authors, it is indeed possible to become politically independent without outphasing fossil fuels completely. Therefore a few effecient CHP plants should be preserved instead of importing electricity form less effecient coal-fired plants. Another myth is the surplus capacity of waste heat – actually there is a large deficiency in Norther Europe, where a lot of waste is still deposited at disposal sites, and if it is incinerated, the heat is often not utilised.

Other myths regard the amount of biomass. Right now, Denmark’s biomass is not enough, but the biomass production can be developed and increased – and besides, biomass can alos be traded. Also heat pumps and large heating storage are areas surrounded by myths, as the use of district heating and cooling in most cases are much more beneficent to society.

Another dominating myth claims that energy-producing houses can take care of everything. This is not true and it will, in the end, become very expensive with the small energy-producing plants. The clever thing about the future energy system in our cities is the fact that heating and cooling can be produced cheap with large-scale advantages at central plants and be transmitted to the buildings.

Andersen and Dyrelund end the feature in the newspaper with the conclusion that “the business Denmark” must act financially rationally based on socioeconomic criteria. Denmark must exploit the market mechanisms in the Northern European market for energy and resources. And the tariffs and regulations of the state must also help in the process.