The Danish Agricultural Revolution in an Energy Perspective: a case of development with few energy resources

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We examine the case of Denmark - a country which historically had next to no domestic energy resources - for which we present new historical energy accounts for the years 1800-1913. We demonstrate that Denmark’s take off at the end of the nineteenth century was relatively energy dependent. We relate this to her well-known agricultural transformation and development through the dairy industry, and thus complement 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, we demonstrate that her geography allowed cheap availability throughout the country through imports. On top of this we emphasize that another important source of energy was imported feed for the cows.


External organisations
  • University of Southern Denmark
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economics and Business


  • Coal, Denmark, energy transition, agriculture
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 844–869
Number of pages26
JournalEconomic History Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug
Publication categoryResearch