Massachusetts Thinks They Can Copy Denmark’s Progress

Massachusetts legislators are talking about learning from Denmark’s progress. Denmark has set a target of becoming independent from fossil fuels by 2050, and is on track to generate one-third of its power from clean energy – such as wind and biomass – by 2020. According to the Danish government, the use of renewable energy rose from 3 percent in 1980 to 19 percent in 2010. The use of wind power in particular has grown astronomically.

In Massachusetts, the most notable recent wind project was Cape Wind, a project off Cape Cod that fell through, primarily due to objections from neighbors. Now, three companies have acquired rights to 500,000 acres of federal water off Martha’s Vineyard, in order to attempt to build a wind farm there.

“We have a huge potential,” legislators said, arguing that wind can be part of a mix that includes solar, geothermal and other clean energy. He believes the state must also focus on energy efficiency.  “The only difference between them and us is they actually move forward and… put in place the political will to get it done,” said Sen. Pacheco.

Pacheco said building wind power capacity in Massachusetts will mean the money paid for energy will stay in Massachusetts, instead of being sent out of state or out of the country. “We can shift billions of dollars of growth and investment here into the Massachusetts economy,” Pacheco said.

Pacheco and Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, also attended meetings in Iceland, meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Iceland and the embassy’s environmental and energy officer. They discussed issues relating to clean energy policy and ways to make industries sustainable.

For example, Pacheco pointed to Iceland’s fishing industry, which found ways to make goods out of the waste produced from fish. They met with a company that figured out how to recycle fuel – producing a type of fuel called renewable methanol from carbon dioxide.

Pacheco also recently led a mission to Switzerland, which is currently phasing out its nuclear power plants and replacing it with renewable power.

Meanwhile, Rosenberg this weekend is leading a delegation that also includes Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, for meetings between Massachusetts lawmakers and lawmakers from Quebec. Rosenberg said the group will talk about regional solutions to problems related to energy, economic development and tourism.

“Climate change and access to clean renewable energy doesn’t stop at an international border,” Rosenberg said.