Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Denmark’s Sustainability Movement

To Know About This Week

Something is definitely not rotten in the state of Denmark. Thank goodness for the Danes! Why? They’re leaders in the sustainability movement. Wind power alone supplies the country with 23% of its electricity, a huge achievement considering that figure was 2% in 1990. Biomass and waste are a significant part of their renewable energy mix as well. Despite having two of the world’s deepest coaling ports, Denmark decided to invest in renewable energy to address concerns over coal’s nasty environmental impact and oil’s market volatility.

Sustainable Company
Amidst this hive of sustainable activity, Denmark also boasts one of the top ranking companies on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index: Novozymes A/S.

Novozymes is in the business of utilizing natural-occurring enzymes in detergent, starch and food, to name a few. Enzymes are proteins that accelerate chemical reactions. In many cases, Novozymes’ enzymes substitute the use of chemicals.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Novozymes not only committed itself to sustainability, it is one of eight companies located in Kalundborg, Denmark that have formed a symbiotic relationship. We’re talking about coal-fire plants, oil refineries and the like…I mean for Pete’s sake. And here they are acting like intelligent entities making sure that their waste doesn’t go to waste.

The whole thing started in the 1980s when the local power plant sent its waste steam to Novozymes, the refinery and pharmaceutical company to improve their utilization of fuel. Any heat the plant generated later went to the greenhouse, fish farm and town residents, eliminating 3,500 oil-burning heating systems. The refinery sent excess gas to the sheetrock factory and coal-fired utility, saving 30,000 tons of coal. Fly ash from the coal-fired utility is used in road construction and concrete production. And on it goes.

This little partnership has enabled these companies to make a profit on their waste AND reduce energy and water consumption. Of course these companies are far from being ecological angels, but through their symbiotic actions they’re behaving like a little ecology. An ecology is the most sustainable process around.

Speaking of all-just-getting-along, I thank Stephen Vance from Philadelphia who told me about his blog, ‘Geoexchange in the US’ ( Stephen is an IGSHPA accredited installer/contractor. What’s an IGSHPA? It stands for the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (thank God for Google). If you don’t know what Ground Source, etc etc is, think back to my installment on Earth Energy.

When I think of challenges to the alternative energy movement, I think of its low radar in the minds of homeowners, investors and many governments. Stephen writes that hair-pulling obstacles also exist within his industry itself. In particular, he finds that many people within geoexchange don’t want to consider integration with other renewable systems like wind and solar panels. This seems an obvious course of action. As I mentioned earlier, my dream home is to have a fully integrated alternative energy system taking care of most of my home’s energy needs. It would be nice to have contractors out there who understand my dream (it would be nice to have a government to make that dream affordable).

If this is of interest to you, and I know some of you are involved in the alternative energy world, I encourage you to visit Stephen’s blog to lend your thoughts.

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In the News

Stéphane Dion is the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Dion was Environment Minister between 2004-2006 and served as a well-respected leader of the Kyoto Protocol’s Montreal COP last year. I recall that Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May had high praise for him. Now she’s calling on him to take action now as opposition leader…

Other News

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