Something Rotten? Obama Says Danes Receive 20% of Their Power Via Wind; New Study Tells the Real Story Wind

Posted September 14, 2009 | folder icon Print this page

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2009
Contact:
Chris Tucker, 202.346.8825
Patrick Creighton, 202.621.2947

Something Rotten? Obama Says Danes Receive 20% of Their Power Via Wind; New Study Tells the Real Story

Danish experts visit Washington this week to explain to American audiences what’s really happening in Denmark

WASHINGTON – President Obama has frequently cited Denmark as an example to be followed in the field of wind power generation, stating on several occasions that the Danes satisfy “20 percent of their electricity through wind power.” The findings of a new study released this week cast serious doubt on the accuracy of that statement. The report finds that in 2006 scarcely five percent of the nation’s electricity demand was met by wind. And over the past five years, the average is less than 10 percent — despite Denmark having ‘carpeted’ its land with the machines.

“As climate officials descend upon Copenhagen later this year to continue their work to engineer a world in which energy is rendered less reliable, less affordable and increasingly scarce, the eyes of the world will naturally fall upon the host country as well,” said Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), which commissioned the report.

“In the case of Denmark,” added Pyle, “you have a nation of 5.4 million, occupying some of the most wind-intense real estate in the world, whose citizens are forced to pay the highest electricity rates in Europe — and it still doesn’t even come close to the 20 percent threshold envisioned by President Obama for the United States. This may indeed be the model for the future – but only if you believe that a combination of smoke, mirrors and prohibitively high utility rates are the key to our economic and environmental salvation.”

Prepared by the independent Danish think tank CEPOS and co-authored by economist Henrik Meyer and Hugh Sharman, a prominent Denmark-based international energy consultant, the report details the extent to which Denmark’s claim to wind superiority is essentially founded on a myth – the function of a complicated trading scheme in which the Danes off-load excess, value-subtracted wind generation to other nations for roughly free, asking only in return that these countries sell some of their baseload power back to Denmark on the frequent occasions in which the wind does not blow there

The upshot? The Danes retain the title of world’s most prolific wind producer, and President Obama cites their experience as a path to be followed. The cost? Danish ratepayers are forced to pay the highest utility rates in Europe. And the American people are led to believe that, though wind may only provide a little more than one percent of our electricity now, reaching a 20 percent platform – as the Danes have allegedly done – will come at no cost, with no jobs lost and no externalities to consider.

Speaking of jobs, the report also pulls back the curtain on the wind power industry’s near-complete dependence on taxpayer subsidies to support the fairly modest workforce it presently maintains. Just as in Spain, where per-job taxpayer subsidies for so-called “green jobs” exceeds $1,000,000 per worker in some cases, wind-related jobs in Denmark on average are subsidized at a rate of 175 to 250 percent above the average pay per worker. All told, each new wind job created by the government costs Danish taxpayers between 600,000-900,000 krone a year, roughly equivalent to $90,000-$140,000 USD.

“That the current political leadership in Washington is enamored of the European energy model has been made abundantly clear — from the president himself, all the way on down,” added Pyle. “Less clear is the extent to which these people actually know what’s taking place over there, and whether they’re willing to level with the American people about the serious costs associated with following this dubious path.”

On Tuesday, report co-author Hugh Sharman will join CEPOS chief executive officer Martin Agerup in Washington, D.C., part of a three-day tour (Tues-Thurs) aimed at explaining to a wider American audience the core conclusions of their report. Those interested in speaking with Messrs. Sharman and/or Agerup or setting up an interview should contact Patrick Creighton (202.621.2947) or Chris Tucker (202.346.8825).

More from IER:

Danish Study: Wind Energy – the Case of Denmark (Sept. 2009)
Earth Day speech: Obama says Denmark meets 20% of its electricity demand via wind
Fact Sheet: Key take-aways from Danish wind study
Fact Sheet: Obama frequently (and incorrectly) cites Denmark’s 20 percent wind figure
Spanish Report: Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources
Response: NREL’s flawed analysis of Spanish green jobs study
Analysis: Levelized Cost of New Electricity Generating Technologies

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