The use of coal as fuel in Denmark was already scheduled to be banned in 2030. Now, Rasmus Petersen, the climate and energy minister, wants to see coal banned by 2025, five years before the original deadline.
“I have asked my office to investigate what could be done to stop burning coal in just ten years,” Petersen told DR Nyheder. “It would obviously have to be accomplished along with industry, and I am not sure how to achieve the objective, but I do want to investigate it.”
Coal currently accounts for almost 20 percent of the country’s total energy production. Petersen believes phasing it out early would not only be good for the environment but also send a powerful signal.
“Coal is the cheapest fuel available today,” said Petersen. “We cannot, in the long run, only opt for the cheapest option.”
Coal no longer king
Denmark is already in the process of switching from coal to sources like wind and biomass by 2030. A working group has been established to examine how coal can be phased out even faster.
Petersen said that “there is no scenario where we are going to continue to use coal”.
While some politicos praised the minister’s initiative, a Venstre spokesperson feared that dropping coal too soon could hurt Denmark.
“We fear it will lead to massive extra bills for electricity and heat consumers,” Venstre energy spokesperson Lars Christian Lilleholt told DR Nyheder. “We cannot switch over at the rapid pace that the minister is proposing.”
Industry says minister is “crazy”
Industry trade association Dansk Energi called the minister “crazy”.
“If the minister wants to close effective Danish coal plants and import German lignite, which pollutes even more, that is absolutely crazy,” Lars Aaagaard, the head of Dansk Energi, told DR Nyheder.
Aaagaard said that Petersen did not have “a chinaman’s chance” of phasing out coal use in Europe.
“It simply cannot be done,” he said. "Large parts of the European energy supply are heavily dependent on coal and will be for years to come.”