Sustainable Cities™

Ringkøbing-Skjern: A laboratory of green growth

The Municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern has a vision of becoming a 'laboratory of green growth.' An energy council is mobilized to facilitate informal partnerships and networks between local industries, NGOs and local citizens. In collaboration with local enterprises, businessmen, farmers and local citizens, the municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern is aiming for green growth entirely through renewable energy.

Verdens næststørste solvarmeanlæg, Ringkøbing-Skjern. Foto: Ringkøbing-Skjern Kommune

It is no secret that the edge of the Denmark is facing several economic, social and environmental issues. Yet, the Danish edge districts and seaside towns have a long history of site-specific production and growth generated from both environmental and social local resources . The North Sea on one side and large wind-swept fields on the other side makes the municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern one of the most resourceful areas in the entire country.

When it comes to sustainable development, green growth and local production of renewable energy the municipality proves itself right. Nowhere else in the country you will find the same amount of natural resources. And most important, the Municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern has the drive that it takes to mobilize the necessary changes in order to generate sustainable growth in the city and in the area at large.

The Municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern has a vision of becoming a 'laboratory of green growth.' At the moment officials are working on incentives to generate sustainable growth exploiting local natural resources like solar energy, wind power and biogas. Due to the recently enacted energy plan Energi2020, the Municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern gains a new 'green' agenda that addresses development and growth intended to benefit the entire community; local citizens and enterprises, the environment and the economy. 

The vision of Energy2020 consists of three main topics: 100 % self-sufficiency before 2020 through renewable energy, knowledge sharing, and the development of local enterprises by increasing informal partnerships in the area. An energy council is mobilized to facilitate informal partnerships and networks between local industries, NGOs and local citizens. The energy council also advises the city council on matters related to sustainable growth and renewable energy.

Project leader and head of the energy secretariat, Henning Donslund, describes the Energy2020 plan as a 'patchwork of solutions.' According to Henning Donslund the vision of becoming 100 % self-sufficient using entirely renewable energy sources is only possible if everyone - officiels, citizens and local enterprises - collaborate on mobilizing, consuming and producing renewable energy whether it is in their private residences, at work or in terms of transportation.

"One of the most essential aspects in order to mobilize the Energy2020 plan is ownership," Henning Donslund says. He explains the importance of public participation emphasizing the way in which officials are facilitating public round table discussions and workshops in order to include the citizens and local enterprises in the Energy2020 plan.

"Everyone is responsible for the Energy2020 plan - a plan that will benefit the City of Ringkøbing, the Municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern and the entire area environmentally and economically." - Henning Donslund

The mobilization of Energy2020 implies for the total use of energy in the municipality that will be covered partly by solar energy coming directly from the recently opened solar heating system located on the outskirts of the city of Ringkøbing. With 15.000 m2 sunlight collectors, it is the world's second largest solar system which is expected to supply the municipality with 7-8 % of its total energy consumption.

In addition to solar energy, the city of Ringkøbing is planning the construction of 40 to 90 decentralized plants of biogas and 1-2 centralized plants. The gas is stored in central plants from where it is transferred to the district heating plant. Besides the solar heating system and the biogas plants, the Municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern also concentrates on wind power. By increasing the number of wind parks and by replacing the existing smaller wind mills with larger and more efficient mills, the total amount of wind power will be covering 25-30 % of the total consumption of energy within few years following the execution of the municipality's wind power plan.
                                                                    Bioenergi will cover 15-25 percent of the total use of energy in the year of 2020.

"We need to reverse the downturn," Henning Donslund says, highlighting the three main points in the Energy2020 plan:

  • Self-sufficiency with renewable energy.
  • Sharing and gaining knowledge.
  • Generating economic growth facilitating informal partnerships.

Time will tell whether the ambitious Energy2020 plan is possible. However, through participatory planning, public involvement and by mobilizing more efficient use of the existing local energy sources, Ringkøbing-Skjern is one huge step closer to achieving its goals. Exactly this is the educational point in Ringkøbing-Skjern that planners and politicians all over the country can learn from.                  

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014