Jutland is growing green

Groundbreaking initiatives all over the peninsula drive the world into a more sustainable future

By Giselle Garcia

Photo: MHI Vestas Offshore Wind

Photo: MHI Vestas Offshore Wind

At the remote Østerild Dune Plantation, near the city of Thisted, northern part of Jutland peninsula, the next generations of offshore wind turbines are being tested. There, one of the biggest and most powerful wind turbines of the world, with 8 MW capacity, has recently broken the record for power production by a wind turbine in a 24 hours period: 192,000 KW/h, enough to supply the energy needs of approximately 13,500 Danish households.

Matt Whitby, Press and Communication officer of MHI Vestas, the company responsible for the project, explains that conditions are reunited in Østerild National Test Center to get the most of the turbines they are testing there. The Test Center was inaugurated in 2012 as part of the Danish Government efforts to ensure that Denmark remains as a world leading nation in integrating wind energy into the electricity system. Currently, wind energy accounts 33% of the overall Danish electricity consumption and the target is to increase the percentage up to 50% until 2020. A big market, so, for turbines’ manufacturers.

Not too far from there, at Hanstholm town, the Danish Wave Energy Center is also paving the way to a greener future. Commercial wave energy machines are being tested. The DanWEC’s tour guide, Christian Grant, explains that the amount of energy from waves that pass through the Danish part of the North Sea is significant. If a series of wave power facilities were to be established on a 150 kilometers long stretch, they would produce about 4TW/h per year, approximately 15% of the Danish energy consumption”, he states.

“Danes are eager for green solutions”

Small cities, in Denmark, seems to have a lot to teach on sustainability to big metropolis around the world. Last year in Dronninglund, a small town in the Northeast side of the peninsula, a solar energy plant was built by an initiative of the citizens themselves.

They have decided to get a 25 years loan of EUR 11.680 to change the way they were producing heat. The money was used to build 37,000 square meters of solar panels and a big heat storage tank, enough to store 62,000 cubic meters of hot water to be used during the winter.

Now, they are producing annually an amount of solar energy enough to replace 50% of the fossil fuels used before. And that’s not all: each Dronninglund household is expected to save around EUR 265 in energy expenditure this year, compared to 2013.

The chairmain of the Dronninglund District Heating, Carsten Moller Nielsen, is really proud of what they have achieved there and has a single explanation for the decision: “You know, Danes are eager for green solutions”. No doubt, they are.

“We’ll not have one resource in the future. We will have to learn how to get energy from different resources”. The statement of the Billund BioRefinary’s Administrative Director, Ole Pedersen Johnsen, explains the Danish strategy for a more sustainable future. In the BioRefinery, located close to the city of Billund, Southern Jutland, house waste and waste water are sources of energy and much more. They clean the water and send it with improved quality back to the stream. The waste converted to biogas that may be changed into electricity and heat. What remains is used to make odour-free organic fertilizer that is distributed to the farmers.

Billund BioRefinery is treating solid waste from three different municipalities already. The process demands citizens’ commitment. Each household receives bags with written instructions teaching how to separate the organic waste. Every 14 days, trucks collect the bags and send them to the BioRefinery. To educate new generations, schools’ children are invited to visit the plant and learn about how the waste is processed.

Currently, the BioRefinery is processing 5,500 tons of solid waste per year, providing energy and heating to 11,000 houses. A bigger plant is being built and will allow the company to more than double its capacity, increasing profits. However, the most valuable final product of their work, states the Administrative Director, is the green and perennial cycle they are creating. “If we educate children and show them a way to a more sustainable and permanent cycle, with better utilization of resources, then we are truly building a better future, and accomplishing our mission”.

Waste is turned into energy resources at the BioRefinery in the south of Jutland Photo: Giselle Garcia

Waste is turned into energy resources at the BioRefinery in the south of Jutland Photo: Giselle Garcia

Giselle Garcia is a Journalist from Brasilia, Brazil and a contributor at Jutland Station.