Denmark Wants to Phase Out Gas Heating, Become 'Independent' of Russia
06:36 GMT 11.04.2022 (Updated: 07:06 GMT 11.04.2022)
© AP Photo / David DaviesA view of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, in Nottingham, England. Britain expects Friday, 21 April 2017 to be the first full day since the Industrial Revolution when it hasn't used coal to generate electricity. (David Davies/PA via AP)
© AP Photo / David Davies
Towering electricity and heating bills, coupled with pressure by Brussels to pivot away from Russian energy in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine, have spurred the Danish government into quickly seeking alternatives for 400,000 households.
The Danish authorities have said they hope to get all households that use gas boilers to switch to another energy source within a few years.
One of the reasons for the announced switch is that electricity and heating bills have soared between 150 and 400 percent, affecting 90 percent of Danes who have an individual heating source.
According to Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, this is just the beginning of the effect of the conflict in Ukraine, where Russia is currently conducting a demilitarisation campaign in support of the Donbass republics.
In an interview with the newspaper Berlingske, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that the switch would ultimately affect 400,000 households that currently use gas heating.
"We must ensure that Danes get away from natural gas", Frederiksen told the newspaper.
Earlier, the prime minister said outright that Denmark must become "independent of Russian gas" as soon as possible.
However, it will take some time to achieve that goal and Frederiksen's "as soon as possible" may take several years at best, according to Kim Mortensen, director of the heating industry organisation Dansk Fjernvarme. Mortensen estimated that about two thirds of the 400,000 households will be able to afford district heating, but this process will require five years, unless more tools are added to the toolbox. They way things stand now, he mused, the switch may take up to seven years.
The main problem is the lack of manpower and materials, as laying pipework and heating units require a lot of resources and labour.
The European Commission previously voiced plans for the bloc to become fully independent of all Russian fossil fuels "well before 2030", raising issues over their feasibility. In particular, it is questionable how fast large economies such Germany and Italy, both heavily dependent on Russian gas, can transition – and at what cost.
Russia is the world's largest exporter of natural gas and one of the top producers of oil. The European Union has long been its best customer for both oil and gas.
Yet, criticism over Russia's special military operation in Ukraine that the West portrays as an "invasion" has prompted the EU to dramatically speed up plans to pivot away from Russian fossil fuels. As one of the first steps, Germany put on ice the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and pledged to move away from Russian gas, prompting shock warnings from the industry.