Danish Churches Cancel Services Amid Energy Crunch
05:10 GMT 28.11.2022 (Updated: 07:02 GMT 28.11.2022)
Despite being hailed as Europe’s poster child of green energy, Denmark saw a fivefold year-on-year jump in energy prices earlier this year and was forced to act accordingly, including lowering the heating in public buildings throughout the country and asking Danes to turn down the heat in their homes.
Churches around Denmark have been forced to cancel services because of the ongoing energy crisis.
In the Diocese of Lolland-Falster, all 108 churches have been given permission to move or cancel services to conserve energy, and many have already made use of this arrangement, especially in the sparsely populated countryside.
“It costs a lot of money to heat an old medieval church with electricity,” Bishop Marianne Gaarden told Danish media.
Similar decisions have been made in the dioceses of Aarhus and Viborg, each of which comprises hundreds of churches although church authorities have promised that transport will be arranged for churchgoers who find that they have to travel further to get to a church which is still functioning.
“It is very unusual, but we are also in an unusual situation. In several places, the budget that was available has already been used”, the diocesan bishop of Viborg, Henrik Stubkjaer, said.
Church officials have stressed that the decision to cancel services is a token of solidarity with ordinary Danes, many of whom are already conserving energy.
However, specialists have warned of risks associated with unheated churches. Denmark has about 1,700 churches which are 500 years or older. Although the buildings themselves don’t need heat, the equipment within them does.
“There are wooden fixtures, organs, textiles and paper hymnals, which are items that typically don’t do well with high humidity. And when you don't have heat, it gets humid. The immediate risk is mould, which we've already had trouble with,” Poul Klenz Larsen, a heating, energy and climate consultant at the Church of Denmark, told Danish media, calling it a “health and working environment problem”.
22 September 2022, 05:21 GMT
Similar problems have already been reported in Sweden where dozens of churches, especially in the countryside, were temporarily closed because of the inability to provide proper heating.
Denmark is often hailed as the poster child of green energy, where renewables such as wind power account for almost half of overall energy consumption. Nevertheless, amid the crisis that has enveloped Europe as a result of Brussels’ backfiring decision to introduce sanctions against Russia by cutting energy imports in a in a ham-fisted attempt to “punish” it for its special operation in Ukraine, Denmark in August witnessed a fivefold rise in energy prices year-on-year and took steps such as cutting heating in public buildings throughout the country.
Danes have been encouraged to save energy through measures such as turning down the heat, limiting the use of hot water and switching off unnecessary lighting and appliances.