Before venturing out to Wisconsin to intern at Organic Valley this summer, I actually had the privilege to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. Denmark is Europe’s most energy efficient country, and is thus globally recognized as a leader in the environmental movement. My first day, I was astounded by the amount of bikers on the streets in the dead of winter, even the heads of Parliament bike to work! By 2030, Denmark has pledged to generate 30% of its energy from renewable sources and currently all household waste is incinerated to generate power.
Dotting the coastline of Copenhagen is Middelgrunden, an offshore wind farm with 20 enormous turbines that supply approximately 4% of Copenhagen’s power. The iconic image of these windmills has made the tiny country of Denmark synonymous with wind power. In 2012, wind turbines generated a little over 30% of all of Denmark’s electricity and the Danish government has put forth plans to increase this number to 50% by 2020. In the 1970s Denmark became a pioneer in developing commercial wind power, and today almost half of global wind turbines are created by Danish manufacturers.
Though Organic Valley headquarters are no where near a windy coast, sustainability is at the core of Organic Valley’s mission. Arriving in Wisonsin, I was very pleased to see the towering turbines at Cashton Greens Wind Farm. This was Wisconsin’s first community wind project and consists of two turbines that supply almost 5 megawatts of energy. The energy from these turbines is enough to power 1,000 homes every year! I hope that this inspires others to take responsibility for their environmental impact and see not only the environmental but the economic benefits of wind power as well.
Denmark utilizes roughly the same amount of energy today as they did in 1980, despite the fact that their economy has grown by 70%. I believe that that simple statistic is truly indicative of the way in which investing in alternative energy does not stifle growth. Instead, it is a necessary path we must take in order preserve the land we love, support our farmers and continue producing delicious, nutritious food across the country to share with the world!