Solar May Storm Past Wind Sooner Than Expected, Even In Denmark

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The Danish government tries to make energy frameworks that last a decade to ensure a calm investment environment for Danish industry. The last agreement was made in 2012, but unfortunately the tariffs and incentives for solar has been very unstable, and in fact incentives are now totally absent. This year’s expansion of solar cells will play a key role in the negotiations for the next energy framework as described on the site for the Danish engineering community Ingeniøren.

Image credit: Pexels

The price of solar has plummeted in the last few years, and is therefore getting more competitive with wind turbines. According to Ingeniøren, there is a need for a clear and long-term strategy in this area after a few years of instability.

The total solar capacity in the country has reached 906 megawatts (MW) from 98,585 plants and 20-35 MW is planned for 2018. Additional tenders for 190 MW are expected within the next couple of years.

Researchers from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Aalborg University agreed at a meeting with Danish Industry last week that a total of 10-15% of electricity generation should originate from solar PV by 2050, which means up to 10 gigawatts is to be installed by then.

The solar PV electricity generation share in Denmark was 3% in 2017, while wind share was 48%. In Germany, the PV share was 6% in 2015 while wind share was 12%:

Image credit: Danish Energy Agency and Danish Industry via

While it is cheaper to place solar plants on the ground, calculations show that it makes economic sense to prioritize roofs of 500 square meters in size and larger, so that no potential agriculture landmass is wasted.

Today, 70% of solar capacity is on the ground while 30% is roof-based in the country, which — according to the author of the article on Ingeniøren Sanne Wittrup — corresponds well to the rest of the world.

Long-term frameworks for companies and citizens are very important to create a steady expansion of solar, but the government has expressed doubt that solar can compete with land-based wind.

Poul Erik Morthorst from DTU is not worried about the profitability of solar cells compared to wind turbines: “I think solar PV will play a major role in the energy supply of the future, and we may actually underestimate the impact.”

I think he is spot on. The solar market in general is expanding at a pace very few can fathom. In fact, as I write this, news is in that the Australian government will receive solar panels and Tesla batteries to turn some 50,000 houses into a giant, interconnected power plant, with 250 MW solar capacity and 650 megawatt-hours of battery capacity, at a price of just $25 million. No land needed.

In 2016, Ray Kurzweil made a bold prediction that the world would be mainly solar powered in 2028 from the logic of about 2% global share at the time and a doubling every 2 years. That would mean 100% in less than 6 doublings.

This year, the total solar installed capacity is expected to surpass that of nuclear (0.4 terawatts, which by coincidence is how much solar China is expected to install in the next 10 years), and because solar PV is in fact electronic devices, prices will still plummet for quite a while.

We are indeed in the era of wind, but solar is booming, and wind will eventually not be feasible — even with the help of batteries.

Global energy source potential and consumption

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Jesper Berggreen

Jesper had his perspective on the world expanded vastly after having attended primary school in rural Africa in the early 1980s. And while educated a computer programmer and laboratory technician, working with computers and lab-robots at the institute of forensic medicine in Aarhus, Denmark, he never forgets what life is like having nothing. Thus it became obvious for him that technological advancement is necessary for the prosperity of all humankind, sharing this one vessel we call planet earth. However, technology has to be smart, clean, sustainable, widely accessible, and democratic in order to change the world for the better. Writing about clean energy, electric transportation, energy poverty, and related issues, he gets the message through to anyone who wants to know better. Jesper is founder of and a long-term investor in Tesla, Ørsted, and Vestas.

Jesper Berggreen has 243 posts and counting. See all posts by Jesper Berggreen