Denmark Boasts a 100% Renewable Energy Community

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Denmark, like, Germany, her neighbor to the south, is a country that takes renewable energy seriously. The wind energy industry alone in Denmark is booming with companies like Vestas and Siemens Wind Power both having production facilities and bases of operation on Danish soil. Denmark’s own wind based energy also grows exponentially each year leaving many optimistic that the nation might be one of the few who can achieve 100% renewable energy in the next several decades. However, wind based renewable energy is not the only kind of clean energy the country has going for it. In one location, Denmark has proven that wind and hydrogen can be king when it comes to being green.

Called the Lolland Hydrogen Community, the project began in the middle of 2007 as a way of taking the excess wind energy produced by the island community and putting it to use. Since they were generating an impressive fifty percent more wind energy than was needed, they set about finding a way to convert that excess wind into hydrogen for use in powering the island and acting as way to demonstrate to Europe the viability of hydrogen as a renewable energy source. The way the project began was with the installation of a Fuel Cell Combined Heat and Power plant that took the wind energy that was being produced in excess and using it to power an electrolyser that worked to separate the oxygen and hydrogen molecules that comprised water. Once the hydrogen is separated it is stored in pressure tanks and it is then used to power fuel cells that provide the community with electricity.

Although powering the community’s power grid with the hydrogen fuel cells proved to be a success the Lolland Hydrogen Community knew they could take the renewable energy a step forward. To achieve this end, the researchers on the community developed smaller hydrogen fuel cells that could be placed in a home and act similar to a boiler in order to provide heating, air, and energy. In 2008, five houses in the village of Nakskov were chosen to have the smaller fuel cells installed in them in order to determine if they would be effective. Nearly three years later, the Lolland Hydrogen Community is now looking into installing them in over forty more homes.

In the end, the Lolland Hydrogen Community serves as an example to the rest of Europe that 100% renewable energy is indeed possible. With the unique blend of both hydrogen based fuel cell power and wind energy the power that is generated easily powers the entire community. Based off the example being set in Nakskov and in Lolland, it would not be surprising to see the blueprint used in the future to convert further communities over to a fully renewable infrastructure.

Article by Richard Cooke, appearing courtesy Justmeans.

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7 Comments

  1. I agree that renewable energy is the way to go. There are lessons to be learned from what other countries do, especially if the are successful. There are many who say that what is needed now is more of the same old thing as a bridge until new technologies are brought online. I consider this kind of thinking as more of a crutch than a bridge.

    The energy question is not something that can be put off. It is a war for our very survival not only financially, but in a very real cultural and biological sense.

    We need to be self-sufficient especially in this economy. We cannot afford to send billions of dollars overseas for our energy needs. We cannot afford to spend billions of dollars to extract petroleum and coal and dam our rivers and then spend billions more to correct the problems that arise.

    We need to be as serious about this war as we were about the previous two world wars. Only if we do this will we prevail.

  2. Interesting article and worth spending more time to understand. A presentation of the actual costs associated with this island project would be helpful. Also, a full study showing all energy imports and exports from the community is necessary to fully grasp how lessons learned from this project might apply to other communities that are desiring to try such a thing. Anyone know if such studies are available?

    As a further note, I assume the products that are generating the power to make the community “100% Renewable Energy Community” are made somewhere else using conventional power sources. Obviously this would need to be factored in to the energy balance study. I suspect the community is not truly 100% renewable as claimed but would love to be proved wrong on this hunch.

    • I am sure that a lot of the technology comes from somewhere else. Considering the lack of certain raw materials this is understandable. However, as everyone knows, most alternative energy projects have a huge start-up cost.

      We mine our steel here and send it overseas to have it processed into our building materials and other items. We drill a lot of our own oil and send it overseas to have it purified and made into fuels and lubricants. We then “pay through the nose” to get our own materials back…Plus a heavy transport fee on top of that.

      All of this is because we seem to have lost the will (or the guts) to keep our technology (and our jobs) here at home.

      WE ARE FIGHTING A WAR for our survival as a nation. Don’t let anyone try to fool you about that. We won’t have a chance until we start treating it as such.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. Denmark should be commended as a good role model for the rest of the world.

    We need to end our reliance on foreign fossil fuels. We have an addiction that threatens both our national and economic security. As a nation, we let more than $1 billion go to foreign countries to finance our oil needs. This is money that sometimes goes to enemies who pose a threat to our country.

    You could say we have been held hostage by oil companies overseas. We face a new threat as the Chinese government has been subsidizing their domestic solar manufacturing facilities allowing these companies to dump their products in the United States. We lost the fight for fossil fuels, let’s not lose our place in the growing renewable energy industry.

    • You are absolutely right. It’s a good start and if and when the rest of the world gets “on the bandwagon” we can have a more renewable (or better “self-sufficient) Spaceship Earth.

  4. If you folks had bothered to google the Lolland Hydrogen Community you would have discovered that in fact they ARE producing this energy themselves!!! (see below)

    This is what happens when a forward-thinking government makes the commitment to do the right thing. Despite the fact that Denmark is a very small country and not hugely wealthy Denmark’s government has courageously chosen to invest in the welfare of its citizens rather than giving tax breaks to the wealthy and contributing to the downfall of its middle class. Part of how it does this is by high taxes (as is common in many European countries) which are then returned to the citizens by initiatives like this. Over time they will be able to spread this technology to the rest of their country.

    Lolland Hydrogen Community

    From Wikipedia(View original Wikipedia Article) Last modified on 3 August 2010 at 09:43

    Denmark’s first full-scale wind-Hydrogen energy plant and testing facility, the Lolland Hydrogen Community, began operation in May 2007. It is also the European Union’s first full-scale Hydrogen Community Demonstration facility for residential Fuel Cell Combined Heat and Power (CHP).[1]

    Located in the city of Nakskov on the island of Lolland, where wind power is abundant, the hydrogen energy plant has received funding from the Danish Energy Authority, and is a joint partnership between the Municipality of Lolland, IRD Fuel Cells, and Baltic Sea Solutions. The island is producing 50% more energy from renewable energy sources than it consumes, and the hydrogen project is seeking to locally store excess wind power in the form of hydrogen for use in residential and industrial facilities.[1]

    Hydrogen is produced by using excess wind power to electrolyze water to produce hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is used in the municipal water treatment plant nearby to speed up the biological process. The hydrogen is stored in low-pressure storage tanks at six bars and fuels two PEM Fuel Cell Micro Combined Heat and Power (CHP) stations of 2 kilowatts (kW) and 6.5 kW, respectively.[1]

  5. Bekki,

    I did Google it and in fact read that very article. Unfortunately it doesn’t address my question. A full cost study and full energy balance study requires identifying the cost, source, and energy expended for all incoming and outgoing materials from the community and an estimate of how many years it would actually take to achieve a full net neutral balance of both cost and energy. Such a study is necessary to move forward in determining whether we can justify the expense of putting our government resources (tax dollars from the people) to work on similar projects in our own country. It’s not that complicated to do. As an engineer having worked for large corp’s all my career, I can tell you big companies do deep dive studies like this routinely before spending big capital on something new. Our hired representatives should do the same. I’m hopeful this project may be an example to the rest of the world, but without any serious data, cannot jump on “the bandwagon” as others have called it. Just looking for genuine data. Thanks for the original post. As I said, it’s worth a deeper look.

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