CNET contributor Candace Lombardi visits the country and finds examples big and small of its implementation of green energy policy.
Denmark's implementation of green energy policy shows up in incremental changes big and small that have been made over decades.
Requiring a room key be put in a special outlet slot for a hotel room's electricity to work is typical of many European hotels. It prevent guests from leaving on lights and wasting energy. But one Denmark hotel took things a step further. In addition to the key card requirement, the room thermostat was set at 21 degrees Celsius (69.8 degrees Farenheit) and only offered a temperature change of plus or minus 5 degrees Celsius.
Denmark's Storebæltbroen (the Great Belt Bridge), the world's second-longest suspension bridge, connects Copenhagen with mainland Europe for both cars and trains. The bridge, which opened to cars and trucks in 1998, has reduced travel times between regions by one hour, saving Danish travelers both time and fuel.
Here we see off-shore wind turbines to the north of Denmark's Storebæltbroen connection. One of the biggest changes to Denmark in the last two decades has been the proliferation of off-shore wind turbines dotting its waters. In 2009, 18.3 percent of Denmark's electricity was generated by wind energy.
Copenhagen calls itself the "City of Cyclists" and with good reason. The city has more than 350 kilometers (217 miles) of bike lanes, many of them cycle tracks that give cyclists a hard barrier between them, the pedestrian sidewalk, and the general road for cars. Some bike intersections, like this one, even have their own miniature traffic light.
In 2009, DFDS Canal Tours began offering electric boat tours of Copenhagen's canals as an alternative to its diesel boats. The first electric boat in its fleet was named the Den Grimme Ælling (The Ugly Duckling), a nod to the famous Danish poet and fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen.
The boat holds 170 passengers and has four large lithium ion batteries with enough power to operate all day. It recharges at night when not in service. In addition to reducing the cost and pollution of diesel fuel, the electric boats also provide a nice quiet ride.
Here's Tesla's Copenhagen showroom at Bredgade 35, which opened in June 2010. Of course, most Copenhageners don't own an all-electric sports car, or any electric car. A poll conducted by the government found that only 22 percent of 551 Copenhagen residents polled supported the promotion of electric cars in the city as a way to become carbon neutral by 2025. Most instead preferred continued improvement toward public transportation and cycling infrastructure.
Here's a gas-fired electricity plant on the outskirts of Copenhagen owned by Danish energy giant Dong Energy. Denmark's "Energy Strategy 2050" plan seeks to reduce fossil fuel use of coal, oil, and gas to 33 percent by 2020, and be completely free of it by 2050. The plan would replace gas with biogas.