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Thisted - Model Community in Renewable Energy

Written on: Tuesday January 22nd, 2008

At the end of November, Rob and I had the pleasure of attending the 2007 European Solar Prize Awards in Berlin (...we are just a little behind with our blog). Since 1994 EUROSOLAR has been awarding the European Solar Prizes to municipalities, companies, individuals using Renewable Energies, and to organizations who rendered outstanding service to the utilization of Renewable Energy. The reason that we were invited to attend is that the municipality of Thisted was being awarded a prestigious award. This is the municipality that we have been living in while in Denmark, as well as where the Folkecenter is located.

The Thisted Municipality won the prize in the category of ?Cities, Municipalities or Municipal Services? and is really a role model community for us all. They are well on their way to supplying the entire community with 100% renewably-generated heat and power, and plan to reach this goal by 2020. The current achievement and future plans of the municipality provide an excellent case study on how renewable and clean energies can play a significant role in the energy mix. In addition, not only have they significantly reduced CO2 emissions (90,000 tons per year) their initiatives have brought companies, employment and economic prosperity to the region.

Some interesting statistics about the region:
- The municipality is located in the north-western region of Denmark and covers a total area of 1,093 km2 with 46,000 inhabitants. The municipality bears the name of the largest city in the region, Thisted, with approx 12,000 residents. The Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy is located in the southernmost part of the region.
- Numerous types of renewable energies are used including: wind, biogas, biomass, plant oil, geothermal and solar.
- There are four large biogas plants in the municipality
- 252 wind turbines stand in the region with an installed capacity of 1.03 GW (Canada?s installed capacity is 1.8 GW). The total production from the 252 turbines in 2006 was 212 Gwh which represents 68% of the annualized electricity consumed.
- The city of Thisted and many other smaller towns use 100% district heating using centralized biomass heating plants. In total as much as 82% of the heating comes from renewable energy.
- There are several combined heating and power (CHP) plants making the municipality self-supplying with electricity. The CHP plants also use other forms of renewable energy e.g. biomass such as straw, wood pellets, wood chips and waste material. All the CHP plants are not-for-profit consumer owned.
- There is strong local support for renewable energy proved by the local ownership of wind turbines and that several farmers have their own biogas facilities.
- New industries that have come to the area (creating new jobs) include the main supplier of nacelles for Vestas, several sub-suppliers for wind turbine components as well as a leading producer of equipment for pressing oil seed.
- 90,000 tons of CO2 per year is equivalent to 40,000 barrels of oil not used.

Most exciting are the future plans for this municipality, which includes integrating all of the local autonomous energy plants into one integrated autonomous system. The plan suggests that new additional wind power capacity peaks will be used for district heating. When there is a local surplus of wind electricity this will be used in CHP and heating plants to replace biomass and natural gas (see our previous blog for more details).

The EuroSolar clip is shown below. It is in German, but shows great images of the Thisted Commune. The Folkecenter is in the video as well - look for the roof covered in solar thermal panels. The english subtitles can be hard to read so I've recopied them below.

Subtitiles: Thisted municipality in Denmark covers an area of 1,000 sq km and has about 48,000 inhabitants. It uses different forms of renewable energy such as wind, biogas and biomass, solar and geothermal. 252 windmills stand in the municipality of Thisted in total today. The power generate covers 68% of the local electricity consumed. The municipality is leading in the use of geothermal heating. It operated the first plant of its kind in Denmark. Local heating suppliers who use renewable energy cover all the major towns in the municipality. In total, as much as 82% of the heat generation comes from renewable sources of energy. There is local support for renewable energy, which is demonstrated for example by the many owners of windmills and also because several of the farmers operate biogas plants. The use and the development of renewable energy have attracted new companies to Thisted municipality and, thus created new jobs. Congratulations!