THE BLOG
12/09/2015 05:40 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2016

COP21: The Answer Is (Blowing) In the Wind

Danish Wind Industry

It is hard to disagree with the massive importance of the COP21 negotiations in Paris. Pressure on all delegations and the French Presidency is mounting, as a binding global agreement is a "sine qua non" to curb the climate changes we are already experiencing. On the other hand, it is not hard to point to the solutions and instruments that might just do the trick.

Every person who has been to Denmark will know that wind turbines are part of the landscape across our relatively small and windy country. In fact, wind is one of the few natural resources Denmark has. A circumstance that Danish politicians long ago decided to utilize to the fullest. Over the course of 40 years, wind energy has grown into a mature, reliable and cheap energy technology very much due to the efforts made by Danish companies underpinned by a long-term framework. Looking back just 10 years, no one would have believed it possible that 43% of the Danish electricity consumption would be provided by wind turbines (first half of 2015), let alone thinking that it would be possible that wind energy can supply all of the demand on especially windy days.

Seeing that it is possible to harness large amounts of wind energy and at the same time having a "normal" well-functioning energy system without shortfalls of electricity, has given Denmark global attention. This is great news. However, and quite obviously, wind energy alone is not the solution to the massive climate challenges facing our planet. Several other renewable technologies are needed.

In the case of Denmark and the Nordic region, the large scale of utilization of wind energy and other renewable energies is optimized by strong interconnections and a common market between Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. In fact, electricity is constantly traded between the countries, automatically balancing the supply and demand and thereby the price of electricity in the region. Sourcing electricity from multiple (international) markets means that it is easier to source renewable power and that polluting technologies can be paused for longer periods, thus benefitting the climate.

The essential and complex transitions of the energy systems of the world comes with a price. However, not making the investments can turn out to be even more costly. Therefore, the billion-dollar investments should be made where they make the most sense and not necessarily within the borders of each country. Looking to Europe and the ambitions behind the new strategy on the Energy Union, it is not unthinkable that countries with poor wind conditions should be able to invest in e.g. offshore wind farms in the windy North Sea. Another example could be large scale investments in solar power in North Africa. This will lead to higher "uptimes" and minimized needs for subsidies and ultimately fewer CO2 emissions at a lower price.

Denmark is a display window into a modern-energy system where wind energy is dominating and where the use of clean electricity in the transport and heating sector is on the way up, benefitting climate and customers. The technology is already widely available and so is the evidence that the climate is changing. What we need is political leadership and a determination to change the path we are currently headed. After COP21 in Paris, I truly hope that the global community will live up to the greatest challenge of this generation and agree on a binding global agreement that makes the most of all of the answers to the climate challenge that are "blowing in the wind."

This post is part of a "Nordic Solutions" series produced by The Huffington Post, in conjunction with the U.N.'s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (Nov. 30-Dec. 11), aka the climate-change conference. The series will put a spotlight on climate solutions from the five Nordic countries, and is part of our What"s Working editorial initiative. To view the entire series, visit here.