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Leon Kaye headshot

Danish Renewables Giant Dong Energy Rebrands, Ditches Oil and Gas Portfolio

By Leon Kaye

The energy sector is slowly but surely undergoing a transformation, and a decision by Denmark’s Dong Energy sums up how this sector will look and operate during the 21st century.

The company, which at last count reaped $9.6 billion in annual revenues, announced that it had completely divested its holdings of any fossil fuels last week. Earlier this year, Dong said it had completely divested from any holdings linked to coal production.

And in shifting from “black to green” energy, Dong’s executives have called a special shareholders meeting at the end of the month as it seeks to rename itself as Ørsted.

The name change emanates from the Danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted, who lived from 1777 to 1851. During his long career, Ørsted made several scientific discoveries, including electromagnetism in 1820; that finding in part laid the scientific foundation for how societies are powered today.

According to the company, the new name signifies its commitment to clean energy technologies, as well as the next generation of clean technologies such as battery storage. The new Ørsted company recently released a video that promotes the idea that renewables can be profitable and are an imperative to reduce any future climate change risks.

Dong has been involved with some of the world’s largest renewables projects in recent years. This spring, the company announced the German government awarded it three contracts to build offshore wind power farms in the North Sea. Dong’s portfolio also includes several high-profile wind projects across the United Kingdom. In 2013, the company partnered with Abu Dhabi’s Masdar to complete the London Array, which by many metrics is still the world’s largest operational offshore wind installation.

While wind power will still comprise the lion’s share of the company’s business, Dong/Ørsted also seeks to boost its investments in bioenergy and waste-to-energy technologies.

“We’ve undertaken significant efforts to find the right name and brand identity for our company,” said CEO Henrik Poulsen in a public statement. “Our new name recognizes H.C. Ørsted’s curiosity, dedication and interest in nature and our brand identity speaks to the innovation and profound understanding of nature, which is vital to creating a world that runs entirely on green energy.”

The fossil fuels divestment has also been underway elsewhere across Europe. Last year, oil-rich Norway announced its sovereign wealth fund would divest from coal. Ireland parliament voted earlier this year to become the first European nation to fully divest from carbon-intensive fuels such as coal and petroleum. And amongst the dozens of Catholic organizations that revealed earlier this week they would shed their fossil fuel investments, many of those groups are based in Europe.

Image credit: DONG Energy

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye