Sustainable Cities™

Frederikshavn: Green mobility test site

Frederikshavn was one of the first cities in Denmark to feel the consequences of globalisation and a growing competitive market outside its borders. So the people of Frederikshavn were also the first to realise and except the scope and complexity of the crisis that hit the place in the late 1990s. But the crisis came as a turning point and today, the vision for the future is clearer than ever. By 2015, Energy City Frederikshavn will be powered 100% by sustainable energy and green transport technologies are among the initiatives that will secure green growth and sustainable development in northern Jutland.

Frederikshavn - testsite
An exhibition of electric and hybrid cars, the Danish Motor Industry Research Centre, 2008. Photo: Jørgen Anker Simonsen, Frederikshavn Municipality

Crisis and turning point

Frederikshavn's future did not look at all bright in 1999 when the effect of globalisation struck the local community. A feeling of powerlessness was the only feeling they were left with as the vicious circle got up to speed - more companies moving away, more company closures, bankruptcies and forced closures, empty shops and houses - all unmistakable indicators of the deep crisis that had taken hold of Frederikshavn, explains project manager and coordinator of Energy Town Frederikshavn, Bahram Dehghan (November 2010).

Up until the time of the crisis and a turning point, the commercial structure of Frederikshavn was restricted and most of the city's commerce focused on port industries, shipbuilding in particular. This rendered the town particularly vulnerable to change, something that became abundantly clear just before the beginning of the new millennium. The shipbuilding industry had been in dire straits for some years, and in other parts of the country shipyards were closing and jobs being moved away from Denmark. The fact that Frederikshavn could no longer continue as before gave rise to fundamental questions. Questions which would play a decisive role in the development of the city's new vision. What was the actual reason for the crisis hitting as hard as it did?

The idea and the vision of the "Energy City" arose in the autumn of 2006 at what is known as the Energy Camp, which a number of leading players met to discuss the city's circumstances and its hopes for the future. By the end of the gathering, against all the odds, the cornerstones had been laid for the vision to make Frederikshavn Denmark's "Energy City". The objective was to create a national test site, a city where the nation's latest energy technologies on land and sea could be tested and demonstrated. 

"Frederikshavn grasped the challenge and has made the vision its own - in collaboration with the players who wish to be involved," explains Bahram Dehgan, project manager and coordinator of Energy Town Frederikshavn (November 2010).

Birdsview of Frederikshavn City. Photo: The Municipality of Frederikshavn

Development of trade promotion and green transport technologies

The Energy City has basically been defined as a "trade promotion development project", Bahram Dehghan explains. The primary intentions are thus to promote growth and employment, especially in the green-tech field. The aim is for the latest green technologies and focus areas to replace traditional fields of occupation, particularly in the dockyards and the port, lost with the closure of the city's major shipyards. Like Odense, Frederikshavn has also elected to stay, the development of green technologies aimed at the transport sector. One important component of the long-term strategy of achieving CO2-neutrality by 2015 is the implementation of a high-tech transport system which will improve accessibility and boost the energy efficiency of transport to and from the municipality.

The city's traffic and mobility plan delivers an overall sustainable strategy for the entire municipality and includes projects involving private electric cars, city buses running on biogas and a smart transport system to guide traffic around Frederikshavn. Numerous projects are already on the drawing board and most of them will be realised within a few years. One project involves making Northern Jutland Transport making Frederikshavn a test track for energy friendly city buses which will run on 100% biogas. The green buses will run in Frederikshavn and on the express route between Aalborg and Frederikshavn.

On 3 November 2010, the Danish Transport Authority and Northern Jutland Transport got together for talks on the pilot project and the hands on conversion of the city's buses to biogas operation. In addition to the bio-bus project, Frederikshavn has also entered into a partnership with one of the world's leading providers of services for electric cars - Better Place - to test new infrastructure for electric cars throughout Frederikshavn Municipality. Better Place offers coherent solutions, including private and public charging stands and intelligent energy control to optimise power consumption. The objective is to make it easier to charge and maintain the cars, which will be primarily charged using superfluous power from windmills, making them an attractive alternative to traditional cars.

A bright green future

Frederikshavn has transformed a downswing into an upswing. The city's challenges of the city's driving force going forward. That is not, however, to say that the path to growth has already been laid. In Frederikshavn, sustainable urban development is not goal in itself but a means of ensuring on-going development in such a way to secure the city, local commerce, its citizens and the climate at one and the same time, Bahram Dehghan explains.
The people of Frederikshavn are getting smarter all the time - constantly improving their knowledge of e.g. green solutions for the transport sector. So there is good reason for calling Frederikshavn Denmark's Green mobility test site.

Cycling culture

Green mobility applies to health in general in Frederikshavn. One of the other initiatives is to get people to ride their bikes instead of driving their cars. In order to promote cycling, Frederikshavn's roads department has initiated a plan for more coherent cycle tracks throughout the municipality.

Urban development in a state of flow

"We consider developments in Energy City Frederikshavn as an on-going process," explains project manager Bahram Dehghan.

  1. Fulfilment of the project's established goals depends on the removal of existing barriers in legislation pertaining to the implementation of sustainable energy in Denmark and relaxation of the nation's energy duty system in order to make activities in this sector more attractive to investors large and small.
  2. Developments in sustainable energy technologies are so fast that we have no alternative but to stake on the best accessible technologies which at the same time can interact with the other technologies the project has chosen to stake on, such as biogas.
  3. Regardless of arguments 1. and 2., the project depends on capital's choice of sustainable focus areas. In other words it is the investors who decide which sustainable energy investments they find most attractive.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014