Denmark unveils plans to ditch Russian gas

District heating, heat pumps, biogas and massive expansion of wind and solar power, temporary increase in subsidies in the North Sea: the Danish government presented a plan on Tuesday to become independent of Russian gas after the invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had set a goal in early March to phase out Russian gas “as soon as possible” while the EU is considering halting purchases from Russia to sanction Moscow. The plan presented by the Danish executive on Tuesday provides in particular for half of the 400,000 households in the country that currently heat with gas to switch to a connection to district heating or electric heat pumps by 2028.

For the remaining households and industry, the plan also envisages the development of biogas from renewable sources, “which will ensure that we get rid of Putin,” Climate and Energy Minister Dan Jørgensen said during a news conference.

Denmark will also “examine the possibility of anticipating and temporarily increasing the production of North Sea gas from already depleted deposits” in “dialogue with market participants,” the government said in a press release. The Danish government has also strengthened its renewable energy development plan and now plans to quadruple the number of solar power plants and in particular onshore wind energy by 2030.

Double bites to get out of Russian gas

The Scandinavian kingdom is already one of Europe’s great wind power champions, currently providing around half of its electricity – the rest being dominated by biomass and coal. “We want to expand renewable energies as intelligently as possible,” assured Mette Frederiksen.

According to official statistics, gas supplies about 18% of the energy consumption in Denmark every year. A large part of this has long come from the country’s North Sea deposits, which, however, are rapidly declining. According to the Danish Energy Agency, domestic production covered only 72% of the gas consumed in the country in 2019.

Russia is one of the main suppliers of Danish imports, supplying around 40-45% of the gas imported into the European Union. The 27 are working hard to phase out Russian gas, but that effort will take several years, analysts say.

Denmark voted in 2020 to completely phase out its gas production in the North Sea by 2050, becoming the first major hydrocarbon producer to set an end date for operations.

The executive has no plans to waive the measure, he said on Tuesday.

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