A Free-Market Energy Blog

Denmark’s Anti-Wind Problem: Wind News Update

By -- August 9, 2017

Denmark’s transition to a more competitive market pricing scheme has … effectively abolished village-owned wind projects while enriching mega-corporations

Denmark, the tiny European state much ballyhooed as the gold standard for wind-power deployment, has big energy goals. The Danish government set the target of sourcing half of its electricity from wind by 2020 and transitioning entirely off fossil fuel by 2050. In order to get there, Denmark needs to build a lot more wind. Last year, wind power represented 38 percent of Denmark’s total electricity consumed, down from 42 percent the year before. (Actual wind consumption by the Danish was likely below this percentage since much of Denmark’s wind power can be exported to neighboring control areas.)”

So, reaching its goals won’t be easy. According to a 3-year, $3.1 million study (DKK 20 million) by Danish Council for Strategic Research, Denmark has an “Anti-Wind problem.

Denmark’s Installed Wind

Denmark’s accumulated installed wind in the period from 2007 to 2016 grew by just 2.1 GW bringing the total wind capacity to 5.2 gigawatts (GW) including 1.28 GW offshore. In comparison, the United States installed 65.5 GW in that same period—a 31-fold increase—for total installed wind of 82.2 GW. Denmark decommissioned more turbines in eight of the last ten years than it installed.


Accumulated Wind Capacity (MW) Onshore And Offshore
Year Onshore Offshore
2007 2701 423
2008 2748 423
2009 2831 661
2010 2934 88
2011 3096 871
2012 3247 922
2013 3548 1271
2014 3616 1271
2015 3799 1271
2016 3954 1271

Source: Danish Energy Agency

 Public Resistance and the Wind2050 Report

To be fair, Denmark is a small country, with a land area that’s 1.25x the size of Maryland. Limited space (and a government fixated on meeting its aggressive energy goals) has triggered massive public opposition to turbine projects. See here, here and here.

Recognizing that wind power opposition could disrupt the deployment of more wind turbines, the Danish government funded Wind2050, an initiative tasked with understanding the growing resistance to wind energy in Denmark and how to increase community acceptance.

Four briefs[1] were released this year, two in May and two in June.

The following statements from ‘Policy Brief #4’ make clear that Danish citizens strongly object to wind power facilities in their communities.

The massive resistance to wind turbines will not only have an impact on the political objective of 50% of Danish production coming from wind turbines by 2020, but in the long run, resistance can affect the direction Denmark takes in achieving its Green conversion. In order for this goal to be met, it may be necessary to undertake a different planning process. There is evidence that the planning process itself promotes the resistance of citizens by the way it is organized.

The Brief goes on to state:

This investigation shows that there is great distrust in the municipalities. Citizens feel that the municipalities mainly think of the financial benefits and subsidies from the state, and that they [city officials] cooperate with wind project developers at the expense of local citizens. … In addition, the public process involves project builders at a very early stage and before they actually have project approval, which gives rise to the concern that the decision on the wind project has already been made in advance and that citizens have no say even before the participation process has actually started.

Policy Brief #5 discusses how Denmark’s transition to a more competitive market pricing scheme has resulted in projects becoming more investment intensive, that is, more turbines, more cost, and more risk. This policy change effectively abolished village-owned wind projects while enriching mega-corporations like Vestas and Siemens.

The Danish support system has changed from being based on giving investor/wind farms a fixed price per kilowatt-hour (kWh), the so-Called Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) fixed price system. During the 1990s, the FIT provided for a relatively lucrative investment for local wind farm land and other local residents (e.g., landowners/farmers). 

By 1999, market mechanisms were introduced whereby wind-turbine revenues were settled at a market price plus a fixed surcharge. This meant that returns on investment were based on changing electricity prices, which introduces an uncertainty that, in most cases, could only be handled by major, commercial project developers with a portfolio of projects.

The Brief goes on to state:

In recent years, the development of land-based wind energy in Denmark has resulted in increased local resistance. Different policies specifically aimed at letting locals benefit economically from the new local wind farm have not worked as intended. This indicates that a unilateral focus on financial compensation or other minor adjustments will often only serve as a short-term solution.

As a consequence of the technological and economic changes in the framework conditions and the abolition of residence duty, which in the first years required that developers be resident locally (‘dwelling duty’), the project developer type and ownership has changed drastically. The windmill market in Denmark today is dominated by professional, commercial project developers, who often have no local presence where they develop projects. This process has obviously taken place in line with the changed energy policy since 2003 and the deregulation of the electricity sector.

The Wind2050 results indicate that the professionalization and commercialization of the project developer and the deregulation of the wind energy market have meant that locals in Denmark increasingly feel that the wind industry has become less “popular” visually compared to the first years where it was more locally anchored and founded in an old Danish shareholding approach. The Wind2050 results indicate that this development has resulted in increased local resistance.

The findings of the Wind2050 project should not surprise anyone as they closely parallel the views of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. But Denmark’s politicians, like their brethren in the U.S. and elsewhere, have been so blinded by the idea of wind power and its claimed economic rewards that they refuse to acknowledge the obvious environmental and human impacts.

Industry players continue to insist that by engaging communities early in the process and promising local economic benefit that opposition will quickly turn to support. The Wind2050 researchers found this is not the case, and we agree.  But we do suggest the CEOs of NextEra, Avangrid (Iberdrola), EDP Renewables, Apex, GE, Vestas, Siemens, etc. consider ‘dwelling duty’. Perhaps then we can have a conversation.

[1] The briefs are available in Danish only. Excerpts that appear in this essay were translated with the assistance of Google Translate.


  1. Jim Lutz Johns Hopkins University  

    Seems like the bloom is falling off the Rose in Denmark too.
    Massachusetts is trying to get the State of Maine to host enough wind turbines and power lines to make sure they can meet the ridiculous goals they have set for renewables. They have stopped their installation of new turbines except for pushing them offshore. They have closed down the turbines in Falmouth after proving the Vestas machines were producing DOUBLE the sound they were rated at. Mass has shut down our request for a new natural Gas line from the MidAtlantic and MidWest. But they want to use Maine as a generator.
    I think you all know where they can put that request.


  2. Frank Haggerty  

    Now we have to ask is the offshore wind turbine construction and turbines adding to killing the Whales ?

    Ocean Wind Turbine Construction -Infra-sound: Killing The Whales To Save The Polar Bears

    Whale Low-Frequency Deaths Known For 20 Years – Human Infra Sound Sickness Known Since 1987- Ocean Wind Turbine Construction and Infrasound

    Falmouth Massachusetts USA August 7, 2017 7:26 am

    Whales are known to use infra-sound to communicate over distances—up to hundreds of miles in the case of whales.

    The whale ear has specific adaptations to the marine environment. In humans, the middle earworks as an impedance equalizer between the outside air’s low impedance and the cochlearfluid’s high impedance. In whales, and other marine mammals, there is no great difference between the outer and inner environments.

    The U.S. Navy and the National Marine Fisheries many years ago released a report acknowledging the role that the Navy’s sonar played in the deaths of 17 marine mammals in the Bahamas in 2000. The report was the agency’s first official admission that sonar may contribute to whale beachings.

    A study concluded the low-frequency sound from the Navy’s sonar to damaged the whale’s ears, leading them to beach themselves.

    The March 2000 stranding of 16 whales and a dolphin on Bahamian beaches was caused “by the unusual combination of several contributory factors acting together.”
    Since January 2016 over 40 Whales have washed ashore from North Carolina to Maine.
    The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) funds research to deploy offshore wind turbines.

    The year 2016 was the first year the United States deployed ocean wind turbines which coincide with the whale beachings.

    Construction of the Block Island, Rhode Island ocean wind turbine started in January of 2016.
    The construction took place underwater placing miles of electric cables. Construction noise underwater increases . Electric cables generate EMF. Sources of ELF-EMFs include power lines, electrical wiring, and ocean wind turbine construction.

    The increase in the Whale deaths began when the construction of the Rhode Island ocean wind turbines began in early 2016 .

    Living too close to wind turbines can cause heart disease, tinnitus, vertigo, increase in heart disease, migraine, panic attacks and other health problems …. I understand this can be regarded as a coincidence, but nobody was ill before 2006

    Now the Whales are coincidentally dying as ocean wind turbine construction begins ?
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, has declared an “Unusual Mortality Event,” prompting a federal probe.

    In 2008 an unusual mass whale stranding, one of the few on record involving beaked whales, drew attacks on the Navy from environmental groups and attracted interest from biologists, including Peter Tyack at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Falmouth, Massachusetts. “Tyack knew it wasn’t the first standing of its kind. Five similar strandings of beaked whales had coincided with naval exercises near Greece and the Canary Islands.”

    Falmouth, Massachusetts is ground zero for poorly placed land based wind turbines in the United States taking health and property rights. Massachusetts residents prior to the Falmouth wind turbine installations had been warned of two distinct types of noise from wind turbines. Those types of noise are regulatory measured in decibels and human annoyance or what today is called low frequency infra-sound.
    In 2015 facing several lawsuits, the US Navy has finally agreed to limit its use of sonar devices that harm dolphins and whales, especially in areas off the coast of Hawaii and Southern California.
    The range of frequencies that whales use are from 30 Hertz (Hz) to about 8,000 Hz, (8 kHZ). Humans can only hear part of the whales’ songs. We aren’t able to hear the lowest of the whale frequencies.

    Humans hear low frequency sounds starting at about 100 Hz.

    Between January and February this year of 2016, 29 sperm whales got stranded and died on English, German and Dutch beaches.

    Environmentalists and the news media offered multiple explanations – except the most obvious and likely one: offshore wind farms

    At the end of May 2017 according to marine wildlife experts, the whales were likely disoriented by nearby wind turbines, which can affect the sonar whales use to navigate.

    Scientist Neil Kelley and his team in the mid-1980s thoroughly documented significant adverse health effects resulting from inaudible, very-low-frequency sound produced by a large wind turbine in Boone, N.C. This scientifically rigorous NASA and Department of Energy-sponsored study, in cooperation with MIT and four other prestigious universities looked into human complaints from nearby residents about sleep problems along with whooshing and thumping sounds it made.The wind turbine also had complaints of disrupted television line of sight reception.

    In 2011 the Chief Executive Officer of Vestas wind company CEO Engel Ditlev wrote a letter to Karen Ellemann about low-frequency noise. The CEO responded that Vestas does not have the technology to stop the noise.

    Homeowners from Falmouth, Massachusetts to around the world complain of symptoms from two distinct types of noise from land-based wind turbines called “regulatory” measured in decibels and “human annoyance” or infrasound.

    Today a common misconception exists that says wind power does not cause environmental damage.

    This is simply not true. The Massachusetts courts have ruled two towns owned Falmouth commercial wind turbines are a nuisance.

    The question today is the wind turbines infrasound causing problems with whales health as they have done to humans living near the turbines.

    In the past two years, the number of unexplained whale deaths has increased in the North Atlantic. One coincidence is the increase in numbers of ocean wind turbines.

    The health risk of infrasound from wind turbines has been dismissed by the wind industry as insignificant and allege land-based and offshore wind farms are good for the environment.

    The Massachusetts land based wind turbines are a health and financial fiasco and again our politicians are saying as they did with the residential home owners there is no scientific proof the ocean wind turbines are hurting the Whales ?

    Do the math: Whales are known to use infra-sound to communicate over distances—up to hundreds of miles in the case of whales.

    Why do whales sing? – Stephanie Sardelis

    do-whales-sing-stephanie-sardelis Communicating underwater is challenging.


  3. Sherri Lange  

    The Danes have some advantages with eight connection lines, and the ability to swish power back and forth between Sweden, Norway, Germany. It is a very efficient market exchange. Reports are that the actual “consumption” numbers for wind are 5%.

    The problem is not just lack of public participation and approval, which as Ms Linowes notes, is waning fiercely. Likely the exorbitant cost is contributing also to lack of favor, as well as the well-known lack of reduction in coal use and the fact that CO2 levels have increased. Danes know this, and look to their bills to question the efficacy of wind, too. Or we could say, the COSTS, so well known to Danes, are adding to their discontent and lack of approval.

    The BILLIONS they are wasting, with Danes experiencing the highest cost of power in Europe, puts added downward pressure on so called coastal projects, and of course inland as well. Green taxes now make up 66% of the costs to consumers on electricity bills. Consumers will not stand for much more of this.

    “Since the “green transition” obviously has ended up as a perpetuum mobile, fueled by an enduring funding in the billions Dkr. per year in Denmark alone (sic). Parliament should remove the state electricity tax. It is certain that it is not possible forever to fill people with the lie that wind turbines can compete on equal footing with other forms of energy when the reality is that wind power – for the first 40 years of development – for time and eternity will require billions in direct and indirect support.”

    From a news item last year.


  4. Lisa Linowes  

    Thank you for the helpful comments. While energy cost is not the focus of this piece, the issue is an important, and complex factor. According to the 2014 report by the Union of the Electricity Industry, Denmark pays the highest energy taxes of the other european countries but these taxes are not all tied to wind and renewables. When first implemented, the intent was to force a reduction in energy consumed by 4% in 2020 and limit the CO2 emissions. The taxes have moderated somewhat since 2013 but even renewable energy advocates object to the high rates claiming the taxes are limiting Denmark’s ability to deploy more renewables. See: https://www.thelocal.dk/20160301/pull-the-plug-danes-pay-eus-highest-electricity-prices


  5. Willem Post  


    What Denmark generates as electricity is entirely different from what it consumes.

    Denmark has multiple, large capacity connections to nearby grids. As electricity moves as electromagnetic waves at near the speed of light via transmission lines, the various contributions of generators are largely balanced over an area at least 20 times larger than Denmark.

    This enables Denmark to produce large quantities of wind energy during windy periods at night. That energy gets spread, at near the speed of light, out all over the place.

    That means, Denmark and connected neighboring countries essentially consume about the SAME ENERGY MIX, no matter what politicians, et al., say.

    By the way, the electrons move about 1 inch per second; they mostly vibrate in place at 60 Hz.


  6. Craig Morris (@PPchef)  

    William, it’s 50 Hz in Europe.


  7. Rich Lloyd  

    The Danish people have been lied to for years by politicians, power companies, manufacturers and constructors about wind farms. Now 66% of your bills are for green energy and yet no coal fired power plants can be shutdown and CO2 has gone up. How crazy is that?
    Hundreds of communities in the U.S. are now saying not here. Two $4.5 billion dollar projects have been rejected because they (AEI) couldn’t prove a benefit to the rate payers.
    Many projects are being rejected because of the noise, health, environmental damage to the land, animal habitat ruined forever, roads, ditches, underground tiles for water run off, devalued property and the killing of protected eagles and other birds. I always add one more that should be considered when evaluating wind farms- aesthetic pollution. Tourist don’t visit any beautiful country to see miles and miles of 400′ feet high fans.


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