Denmark’s energy policy and Dall Energy in NY Times

Date: 8 December 2015

Excerpt from NY Times:
In Denmark, in June, a center-left government was replaced by a right-wing, minority coalition determined to tighten spending and balance the budget in a program to grow the economy.

The budget cuts include a key fund that was used to seed green technology projects — a government subsidy that environmental advocates said had paid itself off many times over.

“This funding has proven instrumental for Danish advances in clean tech for many years, and it is incomprehensible why it is being cut now,” said Soren Houmoller, whose 1st Mile consulting company helps businesses apply for public funds in Denmark.

Mette Abildgaard, a spokeswoman for green energy affairs for the opposition Danish Conservative People’s Party, said the timing of the cuts was disappointing.

“I believe this is a very bad signal to be sending the world, for Denmark to be taking a step backwards just before the Paris climate summit,” she said last month.

The debate going on in Denmark may serve as a cautionary tale for leaders of the 195 countries now meeting in Paris and trying to reach a global deal to rein in dangerous greenhouse gases that have been linked to climate change.

Should the negotiators be able to put aside their conflicting agendas, and sign an accord when the talks end this week, they will then face another challenge: meeting their national goals.

One lesson they may learn from Denmark is how it is possible to substantially replace fossil fuels with clean and renewable energy. But even when progress is made in reducing environmentally harmful carbon emissions, countries may have difficulty sustaining the gains because of politics, economic concerns and, in places like the United States, ideological disputes.

The new government in Denmark argues that spending on alternative energy and innovation is still high, but that the budget must be reeled in as the country faces a predicted deficit of 3.3 percent in 2015. Shortly after taking over in June, the new government was forced to cut its forecast for economic growth to 1.5 percent this year and 1.9 percent i 2016, citing a slow recovery in domestic demand.

But people WHO have relied on government funds and other incentives to help finance their energy Projects said the cuts were a mistake.

One of them is Jens Dall Bentzen, who eight years ago began thinking about how to burn wood chips, grass clippings and other organic matter more efficiently to generate heat. He had an inkling he could contribute to Denmark’s efforts to wean off fossil fuels by 2050, but he worried about quitting his job as a researcher to pursue his idea.

With the help of a grant of 2.5 million Danish krone, or $448,000, he developed a prototype of the low-emissions furnace he had imagined. He started his own company, Dall Energy, and was able to sell the furnace to Warwick Mills, a manufacturer in New Ipswich, N.H. Since then, he has built two other furnaces for Danish municipalities, and attracted interest from elsewhere in Europe and the United States.

He said the grant from the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program made it possible.

“I found it more tempting to leave my job and start a company,” he said in an interview inside the heating plant in the Danish coastal town, where his furnace was turning the damp chill into cozy warmth. “I started realizing it could be achievable.”

The fund that helped Mr. Dall Bentzen develop his biomass furnace will be among the most deeply cut. Over the past eight years, the fund has paid out about three billion krone, said Aksel Laurids Beck, a special adviser to the fund. Starting next year, it will be cut to about 40 percent of its 2015 budget.

Unlike conventional furnaces that burn only one organic fuel, usually dried wood chips or straw, Mr. Dall Bentzen’s system can use a variety of materials. It converts them to gas, which is then burned. That results in dust emissions that are 95 percent lower than those produced by conventional biomass burners, and significantly lower carbon and nitrogen oxide emissions.

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