The Zurich based SolarSuperState association is responsible for ranking countries worldwide for their replacement of fossil energy, in exchange for the renewable options of solar and wind energies. The award celebrates the hard work and outstanding achievements of both individuals and government support.
On the 14th August of this year, the final rankings saw Portugal take third place with 387 Watts per capita, while Spain achieved second place with 459 Watts per capita. These increasingly impressive achievements however, could not match up to this years winner, Denmark, which produced an outstanding 706 Watts per capita.
The award was dedicated Dr Niels I. Meyer, who has played an integral role in establishing Denmarks sustainable credentials, with a particular focus on the early promotion of wind Power. As President of the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences, he initiated two significant government proposals in 1974 and 1975, outlining the potential future role and implementation plan for wind power in the country.
While proponents of nuclear energy during this turbulent time would have championed the environmental benefits of nuclear power over traditional fossil fuels, it seems that Meyer much like the SolarSuperState Association, have only ever considered nuclear power as a fossil energy in need of being phased out. The limited availability of uranium and its ensuing unstable nature meant that it could never have a place in Meyer's Denmark.
In contrast, French attempts at producing solar alternatives to nuclear at that crucial period spanning the 70's and 80's can still be observed in the French Pyrennees. The Themis solar tower, which ran from 1983-86 and the Solar furnace at Odeillo in the 1970's, were both largescale, costly efforts that eventually lost out to France's now well established nuclear program despite the 'Three Mile Island' and 'Chernobyl' nuclear disasters of 1979 and 1986 respectively.
Thanks to alternative energy measures proposed by Dr Meyers and others, Denmark persistently postponed its plans for a nuclear energy program, until the country declared its renunciation of nuclear power altogether in 1985. 27 years later and Denmark has evolved from a state of 99% dependence on imported fossil fuel to a 30% present day production of wind power.
Unable to stop here, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has announced even more ambitious plans: Total sustainable self-sufficiency by the year 2050. Dr Meyers efforts have successfully changed the path of Denmark for the foreseeable future, proving that the persistence of one person can sometimes be enough to change government policy. His and other peoples efforts have helped forever shift one country's energy consciousness, while also inspiring a new generation to input positive change into their own environments.
Would you like to compare the criteria for installing a photovoltaic array to building a nuclear reactor?! Take a look at this video on How to Build a Solar Power Plant