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close this bookSustainable Energy News - No. 31 - November 2000 - World's Largest Wind Cooperative - Higher Targets for Wind Power in Europe (INFORSE, 2000, 16 p.)
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Technical: All Shares Sold in the World’s Biggest Wind Co-operative

By Jens H. Larsen, Copenhagen Environment and Energy Office (CEEO), Denmark

The Danish wind cooperative has nearly 9,000 members, who bought all of the 40,500 shares, representing half of the 40-MW offshore wind farm near Copenhagen. The construction is under way and is expected to be finished by the end of 2000.

Placing the foundations in the shallow water of Middelgrunden.

Photo by Mads Izmodenov Eskesen

20 wind-turbines

The 40-MW “Middelgrunden” wind farm is under construction with a rated power capacity of 40 MW. It will consist of 20 wind turbines with a rotor diameter of 76 m and a generator size of 2 MW each. It will be ready for production in December 2000. The wind farm will be situated just 2 km outside the Copenhagen harbour in shallow water (4-5 meter depth). The total cost of the wind park is 1,2 million EURO per MW, including grid connection. The cost of electricity is 5.3 EURO-cent per kWh, including operation and maintenance.

Co-operative Ownership

The wind farm is being developed and is owned fifty/fifty by the Co-operative and the local utility, the Copenhagen Energy. Of the 20 wind turbines, 10 are owned by the Co-operative, which has nearly 9000 members. The Co-operative’s part consists of 40,500 shares (10 x 2 MW turbines). One share yields 1,000 kWh/year and costs 4250 DKK. (See box on p. 13) By October 2000, 100 % of the private shares were sold. Middelgrunden Wind Park will become both the worlds’ largest co-operative and the largest wind farm based on dual ownership.


Jens H. Larsen MSc. Engineer. Leader of the Copenhagen Environment and Energy Office (CEEO), a local association that provides free, impartial information and guidance on energy conservation, as well as on the utilization of renewable energy sources.

CEEO has more than 1500 enquiries about these subjects every year. It is a non-governmental member organization and is a part of a network with 22 offices in Denmark. These offices are closely cooperating with OVE - The Danish Organization for Renewable Energy, a core member of INFORSE.

CEEO has worked to promote ecologically sustainable development in Denmark for more than 20 years. Since 1987, it has initiated energy and environment activities and urban ecology projects in Greater Copenhagen. CEEO receives financial assistance from the Danish Energy Agency based on the national programs on renewable energy.

Who Could Buy Shares?

In the beginning, only people from the municipal area could buy shares. In 1999, new regulation came into effect and all Danish people could buy shares. The newest development in year 2000 was that all people also outside Denmark could buy it within certain conditions.

Citizens’ Initiative

In 1996, the Copenhagen Environment and Energy Office (CEEO) took the initiative to propose and organize the project. After mapping the wind potentials in the area of Copenhagen, the CEEO organized a working group consisting primarily of citizens from the area who were interested in wind energy. Different personal and educational backgrounds were represented, with a common belief that the project was going to be a success. CEEO was a part of the working group in the beginning and now serves as a consultant for the wind energy co-operative.

Cooperative and Utility - Everybody Gained

In the beginning of the process, there was competition between the co-operative and the Copenhagen utility regarding the ownership of the project. After 2 years of negotiation and overcoming political differences, we have made a contract between the partners, i.e., the co-operative and the utility. The utility is Copenhagen Energy (CE), which is owned by the Municipality of Copenhagen. The contract addresses central issues, such as how to work together, planning approval, wind turbines, contractor work, financial agreement, and a 25-year agreement on cooperation.

Both parties have gamed from the arrangement. CE possesses the big organization for questions about technique, contractor work, etc. The wind co-operative has the knowledge from the private wind sector, with enthusiasm and commitment as well as better contacts with the public and the press. The locally based commitment, along with co-operation between the co-operative, the local utilities, and the municipality of Copenhagen, constituted a significant precondition for the development of the project. This co-operation has provided credibility to the project in relation to politicians and the public.

The 20 wind mills are placed in a curve outside of the Copenhagen port.

Public Phase

The project has gone through a “publicity phase” in which the public and all relevant authorities have been involved. As a response to objections, the project was reduced from 27 to 20 turbines. It has been very important to engage in a dialogue with shareholders and with interest groups who have a positive attitude towards wind power in general, but who are reluctant regarding projects in their own backyard. There has been positive progress, and a number of former opponents have changed their attitude. Right from the start, 4 years ago, there was a huge need for investigations, particularly of the visual and environmental impact, due to the site’s proximity to Copenhagen. The computerized visualization of the project has been a very important part of the process. The dialogue with all kinds of interest groups generated a widespread understanding and acceptance for the chosen location and layout of the park.

Jacobsen family bought 1 share

Yearly production is 1000 kWh:

Price of the share:
(172 Million DKK/40500 shares)

4250 DKK

Selling price of electricity:

330 DKK

RE payment(*):

270 DKK


600 DKK

Maintenance cost

-70 DKK

Net income/yr

530 DKK

Rate 530/4250 = 12,5%

Simple pay back: 8 years

Lifetime: 20 years

1 USD = 8.5 DKK (Danish krone)

(*) Renewable-electricity producers receive a special payment that used to be a partial reimbursement of the electricity taxes. Now, the payment comes from the electricity consumers. For this project, the payment is fixed for the first 6 years.

The income is tax free up to buying 5 shares per person. If you own more, then 40% of the income is still tax-free. Some Danish banks are offering loans to finance the buying of shares.

Preparing the 38-m long wings.

Photo by Jens H. Larsen

Environmental Investigations

Fortunately, the CEEO and the Co-operative were granted 5.2 million DKK (699,000 EUR) from the Ministry of Environment and Energy. The purpose of the grant was to investigate technical and environmental matters concerning shallow water wind power development, as well as to prove the feasibility, organizationally and economically, of co-operatively owned off-shore wind farms.

Present status is that the investigations concerning environmental and technical matters have been fulfilled. So far, the most important technical part has been to develop and choose the right foundation. Through optimizations, it has been possible to gain substantial savings. With respect to the environmental impact, the following subjects have been investigated by independent consultants: the visual impact, risk of leaking debris and heavy metal contamination (from an old dump site), the influence on the free flow of water in esund, the risk of collisions with vessels, the impact on flora and fauna, conflicts with other interests, etc. Several reports and brochures about the visual impact have been published in Danish.

From the computerized visualization


The planning process has been delayed because of the discussions of the liberalization of the electricity market. Other factors have also created problems; no single authority has planning authorization, no planning procedures existed, no rules or regulation on private offshore wind-turbines are in force (on land, Denmark has laws and regulations in this field).

Danish Wind Cooperatives

Today, more than 100,000 families are members of wind energy co-operatives in Denmark, and they have installed 80% of all Danish wind turbines. The co-operatives are a very important and dominant factor in the development of the Danish wind energy sector. This project convinces us again that there are many positive aspects of the co-operative ownership.

More info: Copenhagen Environmental and Energy Office (KMEK),
Blegdamsvej 4 B, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark. Ph: +45-35373636,
fax: +45-35373676, e-mail: