DONG – nominated for selling coal-based energy production as climate action

DONG Energy portrays itself as fighting the battle against climate change, claiming: “Our vision is to provide a stable and CO2-neutral energy supply.”  But in reality, state-owned DONG Energy, Denmark’s largest Energy Company is actively developing new coal-fired power stations binding Europe to a future with high carbon emissions.

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DONG Energy is a key player at the World Business Summit of Climate Change and a member of the corporate lobbygroup Combat Climate Change.

“Part of the solution”

“DONG Energy is part of the solution,” according to its website. “As an energy company DONG Energy is co-owner of the CO2 problem. Therefore, we should naturally be part of the solution, too.”

The company is indeed responsible for a third of Denmark’s CO2 emissions, but claims to reduce its impact by buying quotas under the EU Emission Trading System, investing in low carbon projects (including CDM), renewable energy, more efficient power plants. biomass, ethanol for transport and the use of carbon capture and storage.

More coal, more quotas

“Emissions Trading is the right way to combat climate change” says DONG Energy. It produced 12.7 Megatons of CO2 in 2008 and with an average annual quota of 9.9 Megatons, it needs plenty of carbon allowances. DONG Energy aims to buy allowances for the equivalent of an average of 2.32 Megatons annually, mostly by investing in projects abroad  (Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation).

Only 14 per cent of DONG Energy’s production stems from renewable energy sources, while half the produced electricity is generated from coal. DONG says it aims to generate a capacity of 3000 MW of renewable energy by 20204, but in the short term, it wants to use more coal.

It has plans for a new 1600 MW coal-fired plant in Greifswald, Germany, costing an estimated 15 billion dkr. (equalling 2 billion euro). In Emden, also in Germany, DONG has acquired land to build another plant with a 1600 MW capacity. And in Scotland, DONG Energy plans a third 1600 MW plant. It all adds up to 4800 MW in extra capacity from coal generation - almost doubling DONG Energy’s current capacity.

Maybe buried in the future

DONG Energy justifies this massive expansion of coal-fired energy (which will not even make use of the waste heat) with the prospect of using Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology. But, DONG admits that CCS is not a ready-to-use technology, and won’t be for several years. On top of this, DONG Energy's own experiments with CCS shows that you have to use one third of the energy produced just to capture the carbon dioxide.

Lobbying for coal

DONG Energy’s lack of concern for the climate is illustrated by its behaviour at home. According to Greenpeace, DONG Energy persuaded the Danish government to lift a ban on using coal as fuel in new power plants, under the pretext of developing more efficient production. This included switching the country’s model biomass plant to coal.



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