In the vicinity of Embassy Row in Washington DC, the Danish government is demonstrating how retrofitting buildings with solar panels can reduce the dependence on burning fossil fuels.
The Danish embassy’s solar cell plant has generated 11 percent of its total demand for electricity and reduced its CO2 emissions by 13 tonnes in February, the embassy announced on Facebook.
Last summer, the embassy completed the installation of a solar panel to help achieve its ambitious sustainability goals. The set-up is expected to cover almost 20 percent of the embassy’s electricity needs and at the same time reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 35 tonnes per year, the Danish ambassador Lone Dencker Wisborg stated in a recent press release.
A global strategy
It is part of a global strategy to encourage countries that produce the most greenhouse gases to adopt sustainable alternatives. In the USA, some states are already cooperating with the Danes to develop their green infrastructure.
“The whole of Denmark, the whole of society, speaks of sustainability in 2030,” revealed Zheng Grace Ma, associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark’s Center for Energy Informatics.
The country aims to reduce its domestic CO2 emissions by 70 percent by 2030 compared to its 1990 emissions. However, Denmark’s emissions of greenhouse gases make up only 0.1 per cent of total global emissions, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aware of the seriousness of the climate crisis, has designated 20 embassies as green front missions and given them the task of advocating for green solutions in countries that are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, in an attempt to accelerate the green transition.
Promote a green agenda
Peter Esmann, the embassy’s adviser on offshore wind, said the embassy is doing what it can to promote the green agenda, which includes attempts to “walk the talk” when it comes to renewable energy.
“We do what is possible at the embassy to be as green as possible, and the solar panels are a big step,” he explained.
Esmann said there is no concrete goal set by the State Department to reduce emissions, leaving the embassy “free” to pursue its own sustainability projects.
“It is at our own request that we do these sustainability projects, but it is expected that we will be a beacon for other embassies and show the way forward,” he said.
Procurement of partnerships
Other projects underway include a new, more energy-efficient heating and ventilation system. But sustainable changes to the embassy itself are only part of the Green Frontline Mission.
A priority in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to promote Danish green energy companies, according to Esmann. The embassy works to facilitate partnerships that connect the Danish government and companies with US government and economic development agencies that are interested in purchasing green electricity.
Central to this initiative is knowledge sharing at the government level. The United States has been at the forefront of collaborating with companies to install wind turbines in California, Texas and the Midwest since the mid-1980s. Now the East Coast states are also interested in making the transition, Esmann claims.
Denmark has know-how
According to Ma, wind energy is not an independent industry. Both onshore and offshore wind turbines require a wind turbine that must be connected to the electricity grid and integrated with the electricity market.
“Denmark has more advanced knowledge and experience with the wind energy ecosystem,” she said. “It’s very famous for its green technology.”
The New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSEDA) has formed a partnership with the Danish government to benefit from Danish expertise.
“The Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate has provided an exchange of knowledge and expertise that will enable the state of New York to grow its national offshore wind industry,” confirmed a spokesman for NYSERDA.
The collaboration has helped facilitate conversations with leaders in the wind industry to inform research and develop an infrastructure model regarding the supply chain, workforce development, distribution opportunities and obtaining materials, according to NYSERDA.
Key delegation travel
In addition to sharing industry knowledge, the embassy arranges delegation trips to introduce Danish companies to contacts in the USA. According to Esmann, the embassy recently invited 14 smaller Danish companies to visit the east coast and meet established companies in the green energy sector.
Bo Jørgensen, head of the University of Southern Denmark’s Center for Energy Informatics, confirmed: “The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Trade promote technological trends from Danish companies by creating cooperation with companies in the USA.”
Jørgensen, who has previously traveled with a delegation, said that it is difficult for many companies to gain a foothold in another country if they do not have a track record – especially across continents. When companies come as part of a Danish government delegation, it creates more trust, he assures.
Experience and expertise
NYSERDA’s current project under the partnership involves introducing Danish companies with “experience and expertise in offshore wind” to the local workforce and companies to help with growth in the supply chain, its spokesman said.
“Denmark is a very small country, and our CO2 footprint is not that big,” Esmann concludes.
“But we have a lot of competencies in these industries that can have a big impact on the world.”
Source: The Nordic Page