26. jan 2021

District heating and cooling as part of Danish energy and climate policy

According to the Danish climate objective, Denmark should reach 70 pct. CO2 reductions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050. To achieve this goal, district heating is necessary.

In December 2019 the Danish Parliament agreed on the first-ever Danish Climate Law with binding targets, obligating current as well as future governments to work actively on reducing CO2 emissions. Importantly, the law sets a goal of 70 pct. CO2 neutrality in 2030, compared to 1990 levels. 

Danish energy and climate policy
Danish energy policy was introduced in the wake of the 1970s oil crisis, where district heating played an important factor. In Denmark, the climate and energy policies have different aims, but both strive for CO2 neutrality. The Danish climate policy is more general, aiming at determining and managing greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector and other sectors. The Danish energy policy, on the other hand, aims at securing stable and secure energy supply in a way that takes into account that Denmark should cease to be dependent on fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) by 2050.

The Danish Energy policy is an ambitious strategy, which entails that Denmark must be able to cover the whole of its net energy consumption with renewable energy by 2050. Net consumption means that fossil energy will still be required in certain cases, subject to Denmark being able to export a corresponding quantity of renewable energy to other countries.

There are two main strategies towards a reorganization of the energy system: increasing the supply of renewable energies and securing energy optimization. Therefore, the Danish energy and supply sector is currently undergoing a transition towards energy production based on renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy.

To ensure energy efficiency, research is being done on how to improve energy systems (as an example Green Energy Association’s research on large heat pumps). The transition will solve problems with regard to security of supply and challenges posed by the climate.

The role of district heating
The Danish district heating and cooling sector is no exception in the transition towards a more sustainable energy policy. Energy efficiency gains and green transition characterize the development of the sector, which annually bases an increased proportion of the supply on green energy sources. In consequence, over half of the energy used for district heating production today comes from green energy.

Denmark is a front-runner on green energy within renewable energy and energy efficiency. But for Denmark to remain in this position, district energy is essential and district heating is necessary.

With the increasing focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) in all aspects of business Danish district heating is becoming more relevant as a collective approach to sustainability, because district heating in many ways already fulfil or contribute to several of the SDGs. Danish District Heating Association (DDHA) is actively working on the SDGs with a specific focus on several of them. See District Heating and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Green heating
Part of the 70 pct. reduction target by 2030 is a sustainable and green transition of the existing building stock in Denmark. With a joint proposal from DDHA, district heating will be able to contribute to 44 pct. of the necessary CO2 reductions by 2030.

The proposal contains three areas:

  1. DDHA has an objective of 100 pct. CO2 neutrality of the district heating sector by 2030. If carried out, this will contribute to approx. 33 pct. of the Danish 2030 target.
  2. DDHA has launched a new concept aiming to secure a green transition of 500,000 fossil fueled households. This will contribute an additional 7 pct.
  3. The Danish district heating sector should contribute to the green transition of the industrial sector and will thus contribute an additional 5 pct., reaching the joint contribution of 44 pct.