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Denmark OKs ambitious green energy deal

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, March 26 (UPI) -- The Danish Parliament has overwhelmingly passed an ambitious green energy agenda that includes the building of two large-scale offshore wind farms.

The center-left ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt's Social Democrats as well as the Liberal Party, the Danish People's Party, the Danish Red-Green Alliance and the Conservative Party united Friday to approve what the government called "the world's most ambitious energy policy."

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The vote in the Folketing to back Thorning-Schmidt's call for carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 being 34 percent lower than they were in 1990 was "a decisive step toward a society free of coal, oil and natural gas," said Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Building Martin Lidegaard.

The new measures set out Denmark's energy policy directions as far as 2050.

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"It is the broadest, the greenest and the most long-term energy agreement that has ever been reached in Denmark," Lidegaard said. "Therefore, this is a historic day for Danish energy policy."

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He praised the broad-based nature of the energy package's support, in which parties controlling 170 of the Folketing's 179 seats signed on to the far-reaching agenda.

"In our everyday political work, the parties are different shades of red and blue," the energy minister said. "However, today -- together -- we have laid down the foundation for a green future."

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In addition to the C02 reduction targets, under the Danish plan energy consumption would decrease more than 12 percent in 2020 compared to 2006; more than 35 percent of the country's energy would be derived from renewable energy sources; and 50 percent of its electricity consumption would stem from wind power.

Most importantly, the government said, the deal establishes a "stable framework" for the green energy business in which investors will have more confidence to commit private dollars and generate jobs.

"Denmark will once again be the global leader in the transition to green energy," Lidegaard said. "This will prepare us for a future with increasing prices for oil and coal. Moreover, it will create some of the jobs that we need so desperately, now and in the coming years."

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The minister contended the rise in electricity prices for Danish consumers caused by the $620 million program will be limited to $230 per household by 2020 due to energy efficiency measures included in it.

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"There is money to be saved because we will use less energy and because we will be less vulnerable to rising prices for oil, coal and natural gas," the government said.

A key part of the energy deal includes the expansion Denmark's already considerable offshore wind sector of 1,500 megawatts of new offshore wind by 2020.

Included in that was the go-ahead of two large-scale wind farms at Kriegers Flak in the Baltic Sea and Horns Rev in the North Sea, which together would provide a combined 1 gigawatt of new wind generation capacity. The former will take advantage of a planned, EU-funded interconnector between Denmark and Germany, the British green energy trade journal ReNews reported.

The agreement also paves the way for up to 500 megawatts of near shore turbines -- to be located to within 12 1/2 miles of shore -- 500 megawatts of new onshore wind and 1,300 megawatts of repowering at existing onshore wind farms, the publication said.

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