The Danish Agricultural Revolution in an Energy Perspective: A Case of Development with Few Domestic Energy Sources

Sofia Teives Henriques, Paul Richard Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article examines the case of Denmark—a country which historically had next to no domestic energy resources—for which new historical energy accounts are presented for the years 1800–1913. It demonstrates that Denmark's take-off at the end of the nineteenth century was relatively energy dependent. This is related to Denmark's well-known agricultural transformation and development through the dairy industry, and thus the article complements the literature which argues that expensive energy hindered industrialization, by arguing that similar obstacles would have precluded other countries from a more agriculture-based growth. The Danish cooperative creameries, which spread throughout the country over the last two decades of the nineteenth century, were dependent on coal. Although Denmark had next to no domestic coal deposits, this article demonstrates that Danish geography allowed cheap availability throughout the country through imports. On top of this it emphasizes that another important source of energy was imported feed for cows.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Economic History Review
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)844-869
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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