While the first color that comes to mind when one think of Scandinavia might be white (from all the snow and ice), you’d be surprised to find out it really should be green. The Northern European region is a world leader in renewable energy, and this week Denmark and Sweden hit major milestones in wind energy and waste management, respectively.
In Denmark, wind energy supplied nearly half of the country’s energy, accounting for 41.2% according to grid operator Energinet.dk.
“This is a record," it said. "The high share is partly due to more wind than usual, and partly due to a 650-megawatt growth in wind power capacity in 2013.”
This is up from 2013’s 33.2%. Still, no other country has a better wind energy to total power consumption ratio than Denmark, making them the world leader in wind. The country hopes to use wind energy to replace coal, gas, and oil by 2050. It set a record in January of this year when wind accounted for 61.7% of total energy usage.
Sweden has also been putting up high numbers, but in the field of waste management. It was reported that less than 1% of Sweden’s household waste is sent to landfills. The country also has import garbage from nearby countries in order to power its 32 waste-to-energy plants.
“Waste today is a commodity in a different way than it has been. It's not only waste, it's a business,” Swedish Waste Management communications director Anna-Carin Gripwell said.
More than half of the country’s garbage is converted into energy. Sweden’s waste management efforts are backed by strong governmental policies that require businesses to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
“Starting in the ‘70s, Sweden adopted fairly strict rules and regulations when it comes to handling our waste, both for households and more municipalities and companies,” Gripwell told HuffPost Canada. “People rarely question the ‘work’ they have to do,” she said.
Still, the country believes the most effective way to manage waste is to reduce the amount produced.