When smart technologies are put in place to provide citizens with smart services (often using smart financing) we talk about the emergence of 'smart cities'. But what makes a 'smart country'? For me, this title is deserved when a country has successfully implemented its own smart energy transition, and then paves the way for other countries to follow. Welcome to Denmark.
There is no doubt about Denmark's excellent energy transition and its successful creation of a sustainable, competitive, and energy-secure market. This is manifested through its effective integration with the Nordic electricity market and its innovative technologies which made it possible for the country to make a vast use of renewable energy sources. In fact, the number of energy and environment-related patents applications is per person over 10 times higher in Denmark (48.3) than the EU average (4.3). Taking all that into account, it's perhaps less surprising that Denmark keeps topping the world charts with its happiest people, most satisfied employees etc.
But what I find even more remarkable about the Danish energy transition is the fact that it did not stop at its borders. The Danish government took a very proactive role within Europe's Energy Union, its industry is exporting its innovative technologies all around the world, and its academics are already inventing the solutions for tomorrow's market, adapting them not only to Denmark's needs but to other global markets. And there's of course another important sector, especially in Denmark, and that is civil society and citizens who take a proactive role in the ongoing debate, wanting as well to export the energy transition and amplify the message around the world.
This makes sense on many levels. I would dare to say that for the Danish government it is manifestation of European solidarity; Denmark's industries clearly recognises the tremendous business case; and its research community is eager to do what it does best - bring the knowledge where it is needed, ignoring national borders. The citizens I've met were profoundly convinced that action was needed to save our planet, and were ready to do what it takes!
In my recent visit to Denmark, as part of my Energy Union Tour I was able to see all four come into action.
Video of Maroš Šefčovič shares impressions from the Energy Union visit to Denmark
Energy Tour to Denmark
Solidarity is not an empty word
The Danish government is currently presiding the Nordic Council of Ministers, putting it in a strong position to exchange and enhance its level of cooperation among its neighbours and extend it onwards to the rest of Europe. Incredible as it may sound, the Nordic countries are celebrating this year an entire century of electricity trade among themselves! I was therefore very glad to congratulate the Nordic ministers on this anniversary and thank them for their efforts to integrate their systems with the Baltic countries and the rest of Europe.
There's more. One of the actions, we proposed in the Energy Union Strategy, back in February, was the creation of an Infrastructure Forum, where European stakeholders can come together to discuss, assess, and agree on how to advance the development of tran-European energy projects. Nine shorts months after the decision was taken, the inaugural event took place in Copenhagen.I was very glad to address hundreds of participants from across the continent, and to thank the Danish government for opting to host the Forum on an annual basis. In fact, the next meeting will take place already in June, looking at concrete next steps for developing and financing energy infrastructure projects. Considering the great amount of work this entails, it's safe to say we're moving ahead at full swing!
The beautiful venue of the Energy Forum was also the perfect setting to have a bilateral meeting with the event's host, Danish Energy Minister, Lars Lillenholt, and discuss how the Energy Union could benefit Denmark, and present to him the Commission's in-depth analysis of the Danish market.
As I try to do in every country I visit, I also met with the Danish Parliament in order to thank them for their proactive role in the Danish energy transition in particular and Europe's Energy Union in general. It was important for me to hear from them how they see the evolving role of their country in the European and global contexts.
They mean business
Meeting with Danish Industry, I was deeply impressed with the level of engagement of the private sector in the energy transition. The men and women whom I met were not afraid of the challenge; they embrace it! Some were even asking me to set their bar high, to set an ambitious target. If I would set the end, they will find the means - I was told.
Talking about a revolution
With great enthusiasm, passion, and spark in their eye, experts of Denmark's Engineering Society was presenting to me. They did not tell me that they would embrace the change once it arrives. No, they told me they were the ones bringing it about, in Denmark, across Europe, and around the world.