04/15/2009 10:10 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Denmark's Doing it Again -- Seriously Investing in Renewable Infrastructure, That Is

The news from Denmark doesn't seem to rise to the top of the media queue. Perhaps it should.

First off was Denmark's prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's New Year's Day talk, in which he spelled out how the Danish will move to a green economy. For starters, Denmark's primarily state-owned DONG utility has described itself working on a strategy to move from getting 15 percent of its energy from green sources and 85 percent from fossil fuels, to the reverse.

In other words, DONG will try to find a way to get more than 80 percent of its electricity from wind, wave, solar, and bioenergy. That's a lofty goal, and no timetable was given. However, Denmark has the the know-how, the highest electricity use from wind of any country, and a deep commitment to offshore wind.

And DONG is also making strides on the electric car front. The company is in a 100 million Euro deal with Project Better Place to roll out the car-charging and battery-swapping stations for Denmark's electric car infrastructure by 2011. Dong hopes to capitalize on its wind assets, which put out more at night, to help re-charge car fleets. By switching its entire vehicle fleet to electric, Better Place said Denmark would immediately cut its CO2 load by 17 percent (the Kyoto goal is a 21 percent cut by 2012).

In just one example of how Denmark might get to its goals so quickly - the country sticks gas-driven cars with a 180% tax bill. Zero emission vehicles? Zero tax bill. And Denmark just recently mandated companies implement corporate responsibility reporting - another way to get companies to work on ways to solve social and sustainability challenges.

Denmark also continues to slowly and steadily invest in other green infrastructure, including its bike, train and public transport networks.

And guess what. All this is not lowering Denmark's standard of living or making the Danes unhappy - don't forget they are the world"s happiest nation. Perhaps not amazingly, while the rest of us are still glum about the economy, Danish consumer confidence is rising after seven months of slump.

Researchers say it is Denmark's stability, relative prosperity and democratic government that makes its citizens happy. Simultaneously, the country consistently rises to the top of the list of the world's "most sustainable" countries. Happiest, and nearly the greenest. Aren't we all ready to go this route?

More from TreeHugger on Denmark
::Denmark"s DONG Bets Big on EVs
::The US Should Be Denmark: Tom Friedman on Greening the Economy
::Denmark Debuts First Certified Passive House
::Denmark"s 30-Year Drive To Energy Efficiency: A Profile In Culture Change
::Gloomy Economy Doesn't Stop the Danes From Eating More Organic
::In Copenhagen Bicycles Overtake Cars