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Environmental finance: From Dong to Ørsted – a story worth repeating

Don’t believe the doubters – the transition from fossil fuel to clean energy can be made, and made swiftly and profitably.


Environmental and political writer George Monbiot recently made the salient point that while Shell launched a $300 million fund in April to invest in natural ecosystems, it also invested $25 billion into oil and gas in 2018, including exploration for new fossil fuel reserves. 

When I am reminded of how little the large energy companies are doing regarding transitioning to a low-carbon economy and of the excuses given, I think about the story of how Dong Energy became Ørsted. 

A little over 10 years ago, when Ørsted was Dong Energy, it had only a few wind projects. The main part of the company’s business was drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea, selling and distributing power and gas to end-customers in Denmark and operating combined heat and power stations. 

The stations were based on coal, oil and natural gas; Ørsted alone was responsible for half of Denmark’s CO₂ emissions. 

In 2018, by comparison, 75% of the firm’s total energy generation came from renewable sources – by 2025 that will be 99%. The carbon intensity of its energy generation was 72% lower than 2006 levels – its target is 98% by 2025.

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