Denmark previously stated plans to install 200 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020 — a goal the country actually reached this year. In fact, solar power demand is growing so quickly that 2020 numbers may be five times bigger than the original plan.

With gray, cloudy Scandinavian winters, Denmark isn’t exactly known for its sunshine. Solar panels, however, still perform well there. Demand has been driven partly by a net metering program set up in 2010. Net metering, which is also available in many places in the United States, gives homeowners credit for extra solar power produced by the panels on their roof. If someone’s away during the day, or is simply using less power than the solar panels are generating, their electric meter will begin to spin backward. At a later point, when the homeowner needs that power, they can access it from the grid without paying for it. That’s an especially good deal in Denmark, which has some of the highest electricity prices in the world.

Danish citizens have an appetite for innovative products, so they’ve been quick to embrace solar power, according to a manager from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Denmark benefits from a strong design tradition and this also characterizes the Danish solar sector in which aesthetics and thinking ahead of user needs is a central part of product development,” said Kim Schultz, from Invest in Denmark.  “This means that solar solutions are more likely to meet consumers’ demands.”

Denmark also has other strong renewable energy programs, which have made the existing infrastructure ideally suited for solar power. Wind power has been well developed, especially offshore, and is continuing to grow. Denmark plans to get 50 percent of its electricity from wind power by 2020, and is already over halfway to that goal. By 2050, the country plans to get 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. If Denmark’s solar use is any indication, the country may even reach that ambitious goal there early. This is the kind of leadership we need to fight climate change in time.

Main image credit: Carsten Medom Madsen/Shutterstock