Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Should the UK learn to be more like Denmark?

There is a fascinating nugget buried in the AJ's story about the go-ahead for BIG's waste incineration plant. One might argue that the whole story is fascinating. A celebration of a waste plant? With a ski slope on top? It looks like one of those endearingly mad student projects that will never be built - and now it is actually going ahead.

This remember is not just a ski-slope on a waste plant - it is one that blows smoke rings to show how well it is doing.
But it has been delayed. And it is the reason for the delay that is the real eye-opener. There was a desire to increase the capacity with subsequent repercussions for the design. This despite the fact that 'Denmark already imports waste to support the country's other incineration plants'. So, while other advanced countries are struggling to cope with their waste, Denmark is actually importing it to generate more energy.
This comes just a few days after the country generated 104% of its total energy demand through wind power. It was shown on this live graphic which shows at any moment what is happening with the country's energy. It is in a complex relationship with its neighbours, but is a net exporter of electricity.
And what happens when it produces too much wind-powered electricity? Well, it either reduces its import of hydropower in Norway, says sustainability expert Kees van der Leun, or in the extreme Norway can use the excess energy to pump up the water levels in its hydro, releasing it later. 
There are obviously complex issues involved, but it does seem as if we could learn a lot from Denmark.

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