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⚡ "How Wind Energy Could Power Earth ... 18 Times Over"

TED Climate

Photo by Waldemar Brandt / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Dan Jørgensen
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:18] “How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky? That's a quote from a famous song by Bob Dylan. I love that line, because it reminds me that sometimes what we need is actually right there in front of us. I will argue that that is also the case with climate change. We can actually replace some of the biggest sources of the problem, oil, coal and gas with something we have an abundance, wind. In my country, Denmark, we are doing just that.”

[2:55] “I have to tell you back […] to the 1970s during the oil crisis in Denmark […] to a small workshop, in a barn, in a farm, in a village in Denmark. […] A young man […] set himself a challenge. He thought, what if I could make a wind turbine that could produce electricity. And you know what? He did. […] [Later], he managed to build a big one that could supply his family with cheap, affordable electricity in the middle of the crisis. And soon after that, other farms asked [him] to build a turbine for them as well. And he did. And eventually, he actually sold the design to a company called Vestas. You might have heard of them, because they are the biggest turbine producer in the world today. So this is how [this] invention became sort of the prototype for many, many of the wind turbines that you'll see all over the planet today.

[4:36] “In 1991, we built the first offshore wind farm in the world called Vindeby, 11 turbines, 54 meters tall. That was considered a landmark. They were huge. Today of course, they seem pretty tiny. The biggest offshore wind farm in Denmark now is Kriegers Flak, 72 turbines, 188 meters tall each of them. To give you a comparison, that's twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. Every time one of those turbines has one rotation of the blades, it creates enough electricity to charge more than 1,400 cell phones. The park itself covers the electricity demand of 600,000 households.

[5:27] “The story of wind power in Denmark is the story about how one turbine on one farm sparked a transformation that influenced the whole country. We of course now hope, small as we may be, that we can spark a transformation that will also affect other countries. We are a green front runner, but we need to do more. Because at the same time, we ranked number one in the EU, or at least as one of the biggest oil producers in the EU. This has to change. And it will.”

[6:09] “Last year, the Danish government and the Danish Parliament made an important decision. We've decided to put an end date on extraction of oil and gas in 2050 and immediately cancel all future licensing rounds. That wasn't an easy decision. When we made the decision, we were the biggest oil producer in the EU. But the reason we made it, even though it was expensive, was because we need to show the world that there are actually alternatives to oil and gas.”

[6:42] “Now, some of you are probably thinking that sounds very good. But how will you do it? What do you do the days when the wind doesn't blow? And what about the parts of our energy system that cannot be electrified? Surely you cannot fly a jet plane without jet fuels. Surely you cannot sail a big container ship without bunker oil. But actually, you can. The electrolyzer transforms electricity into hydrogen. And […] that's the game changer. Because it makes it possible for us to solve two problems we have with wind energy. One, we can now store the energy for when the wind is not blowing. And two, we can now decarbonize parts of our energy system that we couldn't decarbonize before, because hydrogen can be transformed into green fuels.”

[7:42] “Imagine that the wind in the North Sea is transformed by a turbine into electricity. The electrolyzer transforms that into hydrogen. And hydrogen is then made into green sustainable fuels that we can use to sail our ships and fly our planes. I know it sounds like science fiction, but actually, it's just science.”

[8:08] “In order for us to do that at a scale that we need, we will need a lot of renewable energy. We will need to massively expand our offshore wind capacity. And in Denmark, we're doing just that. A very important part of that strategy is to build the world's first energy island, 80 kilometers out in the sea, the size of 64 football fields, the biggest infrastructure investment in Danish history. We're changing, literally the map of our country. Hundreds of wind turbines around it. When fully scaled, it'll be able to generate 10 gigawatts of green electricity. Now 10 gigawatts, that's enough to cover the demand of 10 million households. That's far more than we need in Denmark, which is good news, because then we can use it to make hydrogen, to make the green fuels, and we can export it to other countries, and thereby help them decarbonize their energy systems.”

[9:45] “We need, as the Vikings did 1,000 years ago, to change the world by finding new and more efficient ways of exploiting energy. […] This may be our biggest chance of making a positive difference in fighting climate change. Now, some people will probably tell you that a small country cannot make a big difference. I beg to differ. When a young man [in the 1970s] could make a difference for the whole country. Why not also believe that a country like Denmark can make a difference for a whole world? We can’t do it alone, but we can do a lot by innovating, by creating new technology and new solutions, by exploiting something that is much bigger than ourselves, the forces of nature. If you ask the International Energy Agency, they will tell you that offshore wind has the potential to cover the current electricity demand of the entire world not once, not twice, 18 times.

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 11 min | 🗓️ 02/16/2022
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Video: TED Climate - "How wind energy could power Earth ... 18 times over"