Baseline projection 2014: Transition to a Green Danish energy system is accelerating

Date: 12 January 2015

Coal consumption will be more than halved up to 2020, while renewable energy will constitute an increasingly large share of the Danish energy consumption. At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions are dropping dramatically and Denmark’s EU target in 2020 is being met with a good margin.

Denmark has made good progress with transitioning its energy system. This is revealed in the Danish Energy Agency’s Baseline Projection 2014, which shows that the phase-out of fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy sources and more efficient use of energy is in full swing. Compared with earlier assessments, we have also come closer to fulfilling the government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in 2020.

Steep fall in fossil fuel consumption
From 2012 to 2020, fossil fuel consumption is expected to fall by approx. 20% depending on the CO2 quota price development. The largest contribution comes from coal, which is being reduced by about 57%. The major switch will occur particularly in the electricity and district heating production. The expansion of wind power and conversion of combined heat and power plants to biomass mean that renewable energy sources will constitute approx. 71% of our electricity consumption in 2020, compared with 43% in 2012. Whereas 84% of Danish electricity needs were met by fossil fuels in 2000, the share in 2020 will have dropped to 29%.

Lower energy consumption – also in the transport sector
The gross energy consumption will decrease by approx. 4% up to 2020. This will result mainly from efficiency improvements through electricity and district heating production being converted into fuel-free production with a modest conversion loss. A number of efficiency improvements are expected at end users in households and businesses as a result of better insulation, installation of more efficient heat sources and more efficient electrical appliances.

Contrary to earlier projections, a decrease is also expected in energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the road transport sector. This is due to lower growth expected in road traffic volumes and the more rapid move expected towards less energy-intensive cars.

Higher consumption of renewable energy
The phase-out of fossil fuels is expected to prompt a rise in renewable energy consumption of approx. 47% up to 2020, e.g. as a consequence of the expansion of the Horns Rev and Kriegers Flak offshore wind farms, and the increased use of biomass, biogas and liquid biofuels for transport. This will raise our renewable energy share from 26% in 2012 to 38% in 2020. Denmark has undertaken to ensure that renewable energy covers at least 30% of the expanded final energy consumption in 2020. This goal is therefore expected to be met with a good margin.

Closer to meeting the national greenhouse gas emission target
The government has a target to reduce Denmark’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in 2020 compared with the 1990 level. The projection shows that with the initiatives already taken, emissions will be reduced by 37%. The shortfall has been calculated at 2.0 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

The projection provides a lower estimate for the shortfall compared with the Danish Climate Policy Plan from 2013 even though the projection includes the initiatives from FSA roll-back agreement etc. and easing of the PSO, which viewed in isolation help to increase the emissions.

Denmark has an EU target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the sectors not covered by the quotas by 20% in 2020, compared with the 2005 level. Similarly, every year, Denmark must meet a fixed reduction target. The projection reveals that the EU target will be exceeded throughout the entire period 2013-2020, when the total exceeded compliance is expected to be 19 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

The projection shows that we can expect a change in the sectors’ share of the overall emissions. In 2012, the electricity and heating sector accounted for 38% of the overall emissions, and in 2020 this share will have dropped to 29%. During the same period, the share attributed to transport is expected to rise from 22% to 26%, while the share attributed to agriculture including energy consumption will rise from 21% to 27%.

The projection is not a forecast
The Danish Energy Agency’s baseline projection of Denmark’s energy consumption and emission of greenhouse gases is not a forecast but it describes the development that, subject to a number of assumptions concerning technological developments, prices, economic trends, etc., can occur in the years ahead if it is hypothetically assumed that no new initiatives or measures will be implemented in addition to those already politically decided.

It must be emphasised that such long-term projections are subject to considerable uncertainty and that this uncertainty must be expected to increase during the projection period. The uncertainties stem from e.g. assumptions concerning growth, pricing and technologies that could differ significantly from expectations.

Particular uncertainty is expected in relation to the development in CO2 quota prices, as this is of substantial importance to the projection for e.g. fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and electricity prices. This particular uncertainty means that a number of results in the projection are presented both with an average quota price estimate as well as a range that reflects the uncertainty. The average quota price estimate is the latest quota price [trend] from the EU (DKK 79/tonne in 2020), while the lower price corresponds to a quota price at [the current level] also in 2020 (DKK 40/tonne in 2020), and the upper price corresponds to the quota price from the IEA New Policy scenario (DKK 119/tonne in 2020).

The results included in this press release are all stated for the average quota price estimate.

Source: State of Green / Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building