I just read an interesting story on Chinese news site Xinhuanet, of all places, on wind power in Denmark and how a cooperative ownership model has allowed the Danes to leap over the NIMBY hurdle that stops or stalls so many wind power projecs (and energy projects, in general).
“The Danish cooperative model involves private persons in the ownership of wind turbines, because you want the project to be accepted, and also to avoid the NIMBY or, ‘Not In My Back Yard’ effect,” said Hans Christian Soerensen, board member of the Middelgrunden Wind Turbine Cooperative.
Very logical. Want someone to not complain about a major, noticeable change in the area? Bring them into the project!
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In the story, they look at a specific case study to better show how the process works. They summarize the development of the Middelgrunden, or Middle Ground wind park, which includes 20 wind turbines off Copenhagen’s east coast that can power 40,000 Copenhagen households, on average.
“The idea for the park was raised as far back as 1993, and consultation with local people and non-governmental organizations about where and how to place the wind-turbines started soon after,” Yamei Wang of Xinhuanet wrote.
Eventually shares of the project were opened up to residents, and the project was completed in 2000. “As a shareholder, you buy a share for 4,250 Danish kroner (around 571 euros) and in the beginning you get about 600 kroner (80.6 euros) back in revenue every year, which means about 14 to 15 percent return,” said Soerensen.
“But today, after more than 10 years, we have all the money back and you get about seven percent every year on invested capital. People are quite satisfied with this because it is much better than having it in a bank, and at the same time, you are doing something positive for the environment.”
Yes, that is a serious win-win.
The 48-million-euro ($65-million) wind farm now has 8,856 shareholders, and those shareholders are free to sell their shares to others. DONG, the biggest energy and utilities company in Denmark, owns 10 of the turbines, built the wind park, and operates it.
Cooperative ownership is apparently something that comes natural to the Danes (wish it did to Americans.. but maybe it is beginning to). Other than wind farms, which have used cooperative ownership since the 1970s, banks, dairies, and abattoirs have had long success using cooperative ownership models.
Denmark is a world leader in wind power, and it wants to use wind power to provide its citizens with 50% of their electricity by 2020. Cooperative ownership sure makes getting those wind turbines installed, and giving back to the people — or democratizing the electricity grid — is certainly a nice this to do.
Middelgrunden Wind Farm Photo via Stig Nygaard