Zero Carbon Compendium


'More than 60% of all dwellings are connected to a district heating network in which the heat is produced from decentralised CHP, running mainly on a mix of oil, natural gas and renewables'

Key Facts

Country Population:5.5 m
Capital Population:1.1 m
Area:42, 394 km²
Density:131 people/km²

National Carbon Overview

Today Denmark is one of the leaders in energy efficiency in the EU, being virtually self-sufficient in energy, a net exporter of oil and gas, and as of 2009, the lowest energy intensity1 among member countries. Thirty years ago, the energy balance was very different, with Denmark importing as much as 99% of all the energy used. Following the 1970's oil crisis, Denmark has become a global leader in wind energy and renewable energy technology. In fact, 3.1% of the country's GDP is from renewable energy technologies. Today, the government's ambitious energy efficiency programme has established stringent building and appliance codes, public service campaigns, high taxes on energy, and a public sector that sets efficiency examples.

More than 60% of all dwellings are connected to a district heating network in which the heat is produced from decentralised CHP, running mainly on a mix of oil, natural gas and renewables. Government policy uses municipal energy planning and zoning to select the most cost-effective form of heat supply for each area.

Renewable energy accounts for over 15% of the total gross energy consumption, and is composed of a mix of wind, biomass, biogas and solar. Denmark aims to cut gross energy use by 6% by 2020 compared to 2006 levels. As of 2009, 27.4% of electricity supply was generated through renewable sources and renewable energy is expected to provide 50% of the country's total electricity supply by 2020.[2]


Exemplar Project

Egebjerggard, Ballerup

Skotteparken. Kaj Andersen.

Skotteparken is an experimental building project of 100 low-income terraced houses located in Greater Copenhagen. It was designed to achieve a 60% reduction on gas use for heating and domestic hot water when compared to standard houses. The other aim was to reduce the consumption of electricity and water by 20% and 30% respectively.
The dwellings are solar-heated and low-energy, achieved through a combination of extra insulation, low-emission glazing, heat recovery, district heating from local CHP, localised heat and water metering, an energy management system, and rainwater

collection. The project received the 'World Habitat Award' in 1994 for reductions in water and energy use, and was chosen by the UN as one of the 100 best practice examples in the world. A two year monitoring program following its completion in 1992 found that the project nearly reached its central goal and achieved a 50% reduction in energy consumption for heating and domestic hot water.[6]

Policy and Targets

Under the Kyoto Protocol and the EU's subsequent Burden Sharing Agreement, Denmark has undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 21% from 2008-2012, based on 1990 levels.  This is one of the most ambitious reduction targets undertaken by any country in the world.[3]

Denmark's Energy Strategy 2050, released in early 2011, outlines the aim to achieve complete independence from fossil fuels by 2050, with a minimum reduction in fossil fuel use of 33% by 2020 (compared to 2009 usage). In 2007, an Action Plan for Renewed Energy Conservation committed electricity, natural gas and oil companies to achieve specific energy-saving targets by initiating savings among their customers. Similar targets for district heating customers are being developed.

Existing Frameworks

Mandatory requirements for buildings, including dwellings, are set out in the Danish Building Regulations 2010. These impose strict energy performance requirements in accordance with current Danish action plans and are in accordance with the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) 2002 (amended in 2010).

The regulations that stipulate the building code's energy efficiency standards are to be regularly tightened with an increase of 25% in 2010, followed by an additional 25% in 2015 and another 25% in 2020. Under the Thermal Building Code Revision in 2006, new buildings are subject to thermal efficiency standards that are 25-30% more stringent than those already built. The EPBD has also been instrumental in the implementation of energy labelling for buildings and setting new standards for maximum heating energy consumption.

Denmark has also set a target that all new housing should meet Passivhaus standards by 2020.[4]

Support, Incentives and Grants

Under Denmark's Energy Strategy 2050, DKK 100 million has been allocated for wave, biogasification and solar power research. The government has also allocated DKK 10 million to support demonstration projects on solar heating for households, as well as an accompanying certification and quality assurance scheme. The strategy includes provisions for increasing energy efficiency in buildings and businesses (financed through energy companies' grid tariffs). This money will then be given as subsidies to enable companies and households to buy energy efficient equipment and energy consultancy.[5]  

Energy prices and taxes have been successfully used to promote energy savings in Denmark. Between 1990 and 2005, revenues from 'green' taxes increased by 161%. Reforms in spring 2009 have increased energy taxes for electricity as well as on fuels consumed by households and for the production of district heating, which will continue to increase annually until 2015.



  1. Energy intensity is defined as energy use per GDP, measured in toe/MEUR.
  2. Danish Energy Agency. (2011). Danish Energy Outlook.
  3. Danish Ministry of the Environment. (2005). Denmark's Climate Policy Objective & Achievements.
  4. Henrietta Lynch. (2008). A Case for Passivhaus. Building Design (BD) magazine.
  5. Danish Government. Energy Strategy 2050: From Coal, Oil and Gas to Green Energy. (2011).
  6. World Habitat Awards. Previous Winners and Finalists.
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