Danish Energy Giant Commits to Phasing Out Coal by 2023

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©. DONG Energy

Earlier today, I reported that Deutsche Bank is going to stop financing new coal mines and power stations, and reduce its exposure to existing coal-dependent assets too. Obviously, this move has benefits in terms of the bank's corporate responsibility commitments, but there's another important aspect to this tale: It just doesn't make sense financially anymore.

No sooner do I write this than I get another confirmation of the way the wind is blowing: Danish energy giant DONG (yes, snickering is allowed) has committed to phasing out coal from its energy mix by 2023. This move probably shouldn't come as a surprise. As the graphic above shows, DONG has already reduced its coal dependence by 73% since 2006. But the fact that they are announcing a complete phase out is still encouraging: coal's decline isn't likely to plateau out with a reduced market share. It's going to go the way of whale oil and steam trains.

The reason for this shift is pretty simple—companies like DONG are making more money from gigawatt-sized wind farms, and they are shattering cost reduction goals in the process. The fact that this shift means a significant drop in emissions, cleaner air for all of us, and significant progress toward a lower carbon economy is just icing on the cake.

It's worth noting that DONG has previously voiced ambitions to disrupt the transportation sector too by betting big on electric vehicles. I suspect those early efforts may not have quite come to pass, as they were loosely modeled on the now defunct Project Better Place—which centered around the idea of battery switching. Still, if DONG can keep up the pace on decarbonizing the electricity grids of this world, there are plenty of other players making sure that electrified transportation and non-car ownership become an actual thing. Then we may see echoes of coal's collapse for Big Oil too...