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Denmark claims gold at the 2014 Energy Efficiency Global Forum

There’s big news for energy efficiency in Europe. In May, the Kingdom of Denmark won the prestigious EE Visionary Award at the 2014 Energy Efficiency Global Forum, which recognizes “the best of the best” on efficiency policy and implementation.

It’s a big honor, and well deserved. Denmark has nearly doubled its energy productivity since 1980 — boosting its GDP by almost 80 percent while keeping its annual energy consumption constant. In fact, Denmark’s energy demand has actually gone down since 1990. What’s the secret to the Danes’ success? In recent years, it’s been their Energy Efficiency Obligation — the European equivalent of an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard. In 2006, Denmark adopted a policy that mobilizes energy distribution companies to help their customers save energy. In the years since, that savings target has gone up — and today, Danish utilities need to reduce energy demand by 2-3 percent annually relative to business as usual. That’s a more ambitious standard than any other country in the European Union.

EU Energy Efficiency Targets Total energy efficiency targets for EU member states with confirmed Energy Efficiency Obligations. Energy savings are for a three-year period, 2014-2016, and measured relative to a 2010-2012 baseline.

 Behavioral efficiency is primed to become a big part of Denmark’s energy saving strategy going forward. But Danish energy companies are taking all kinds of approaches to hit their goals. In 2012, one of them even sought energy savings by offering pizza-based incentives to their customers.

The bottom line is that Denmark is leading the European Union when it comes to energy efficiency — and as other member states strive to reduce their energy use 20 percent by 2020, they’d be wise to note how strong efficiency standards and utility-based programs have curbed power consumption on the Jutland peninsula. In fact, Opower recently found that if Europe deployed behavioral energy efficiency programs everywhere they're cost-effective, the continent could save more than enough energy to power every home in Denmark for good.

 Header image credit: Ad Meskens

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