Sustainable Cities™

Onsevig/Lolland: A display window on climate adjustment

When the flood waters hit Lolland on 1 November 2006 and entirely covered the village of Onsevig, a turning point was reached for the entire municipality. From that day, Denmark's fourth largest island realised how serious climate change was, along with the resulting extreme weather conditions. For this reason - against the background of the flooding and to secure the island's future existence and growth, Lolland was forced to think in entirely new directions from that day forward. Today, Lolland is well on the way to becoming an international display window on climate adjustment.

Digestien ved Kappel, Onsevig. Foto: Vagn Nielsen. Venligst udlånt af Lolland Kommune.

Extreme weather and climate adjustment 

Lolland lies in one the lowest parts of Denmark, where the islands are extremely vulnerable to climate changes, rising sea water levels, increased storm frequency and sudden storm surges. Climate changes on Lolland are by no means pure rhetoric; they are already a reality. The storm surge on 1 November 2006 hit Lolland hard, especially the village of Onsevig, 16 km north of Nakskov, which was worst affected.

Shortly after the storm surge, Onsevig was chosen as a test area for the dikes of the future, run-off water collection and cleansing basins and research into algae and wave energy. The result can be seen today in the form of a 3.5 metre-high dike with a central entrance for harbour traffic. The dike project has also been made interactive. There are plans for it to become a rain and field run-off water collector, which cleanses the water and grows algae for a variety of uses, including animal foods. The project is considered a success story, despite initial teething problems and a shortage of investors. So folk on Lolland are proud to show off their project.

 Onsevig Climate Park- test area for new green technologies in run-off water collection, cleansing and algae cultivation.

The EU's climate covenant and global attention

 In late 2009 Lolland Municipality and 14 other local authorities in Region Sjælland joined the EU climate pact, aka. the Covenant of Mayors. The vision of the climate agreement for Lolland Municipality has resulted in numerous specific targets and projects laid down in the policies, strategies and plans passed by the Usability. This includes the Plan Strategy, of which the Onsevig Climate Park and Vestenskov hydrogen community are the most successful. Lolland Municipality has generally committed itself to a number of agreements, among others one with the Danish Nature Conservancy on minimisation of CO2 emissions.

One project has already been implemented in connection with the agreement, and that is Onsevig Climate Park, which combines efforts in the fields of nature and climate adjustment with the reduction of CO2 emissions for the sake of the environment and the local and regional area. Onsevig Climate Park has aroused considerable interest, especially from abroad. Researchers in wave energy and algae specialists come all the way from Hawaii to learn from the examples at Onsevig Climate Park. A good number of planners and developers have come from Japan to experience Lolland's green initiatives on the island and the surrounding sea. Tomoko Nielsen is a journalist who specialises in sustainable development. She came to Lolland from Japan 10 years ago. No one was talking about 'green growth' and 'sustainable development' in those days. But since she came here a lot has happened on the island and to the people who live on it. It is especially the mentality that has changed, along with the commitment of the local community and the politicians' will to change, Tomoko explains.

 "When I came to Lolland nobody was interested in the environment or local development. During the last 10 years, interest in the island, awareness of the challenges faced on Lolland, its natural resources and the climate effort have increased substantially. And this has created a sense of community and strengthen people's belief in Lolland as something special...
...I think Lolland can become even more attractive, but that will mean that Denmark must open its eyes to what Lolland has and can do in terms of climate adjustment."

After the headwind comes the tailwind

Vestas' closure in 2010 has led to yet another economic downturn and yet another increase in unemployment. However, instead of giving up, Lolland has welcomed the challenges. "Because if you overcome the crisis once - both financial and environmental - then you can win again," says Tomoko. Such is the local mindset these days across Lolland and in the towns of Nakskov and Rødby, where Tomoko Nielsen lives. And the will of the local population is gold as far as the area is concerned. Plenty of obstacles have turned up along the way, and even more can be expected in the future, but people on Lolland don't give up that easily. 

Despite unemployment of 20%, bankruptcies, closures and people moving away, people are still fighting on. Who knows, perhaps the feeling of cohesion and commitment in the local population since Tomoko came to Lolland has grown precisely because of the many challenges. Today, Lolland Municipality, Nakskov and the island's tourist association are experiencing, despite the bumps in the road, increasing interest on the part of the outside world to visit the island and experience its countryside and the demonstration and test installations at Onsevig. On Lolland they want to be in national and international display window for the green energy production and sustainable climate adjustment of the future, which combine high-tech as well as low-tech solutions.

They already have considerable experience with climate adjustment which combine "primitive" dikes, water collection and CO2 reduction in a sustainable, viable fashion. New dikes, specially designed wave power installations, basins for the control of run-off water from the fields and intensive researching algae, show some of tomorrow's climate adjustment solutions. In Japan and Hawaii they have already realised how the sea, Lolland's landscape and natural environment of Lolland combine beauty with sustainability Although the algae basins haven't quite functional as they were supposed to, and although Lolland is still struggling with bankruptcies, unemployment and an increasing number of people leaving the area, but will still exists to continue the work by becoming even better at climate adjustment so as to secure the island's natural environment and the local community.

 "Because we have survived unemployment at 20% in the 1980-90s following the closure of the big shipyard, I'm sure that we can find a good, sustainable solution to the current challenges and once again turn the headwind into a tail wind."

Wave Energy

Bølgenergi er en vedvarende energikilde i lighed med blandt andet vind- og solenergi. Med bølgekraft udnytter anlægget den energi, der er i havets bevægelse. Der er en stigende interesse for at udvinde den vedvarende energi fra bølgerne, så der bliver i dag løbende testet og udviklet på bølgekraftanlæggene i Onsevig, så man i fremtiden kan få endnu bedre produktion og udnyttelse af de store anlæg til havs. Et bølgekraftanlæg omsætter, i stil med vindmøller, naturens naturlige kræfter til at at producere elektricitet. I Danmark er der udviklet anlæg, som bliver placeret på havet tæt på kysten, hvor anlægget kan udnytte havets bølger. Poseidon - bølgeanlæg ved Vindeby. Poseidon som bølgekraftanlægget hedder ejes af Floating Power Plant A/S, og er placeret ud for Vindeby ved Onsevig på Lolland. Her udvikles og testes anlæggets muligheder og begrænsninger. Ønsket er at kombinere offshore vindmøller og bølgekraftanlæg.

Algae as a biomass

Dyrkning af alger kan reducere udledning af CO2 til atmosfæren og udledning af næringssalte til havmiljøet. Desuden kan algedyrkning give et betydeligt bidrag til produktion af biomasse og udgøre et gyldigt alternativ til brug af fødevare til produktion af biobrændsel.Algedyrkningen skal i første omgang foregå i Onsevig Klimapark, men tænkes senere udvidet til også at omfatte rensningsanlæggene i Søllested og Nakskov Industri- og Miljøpark samt gylleanlæg hos lokale landmænd.

Vestenskov hydrogen village

Vestenskov er verdens første brintlandsby - en enestående landsby - hvor landsbyens huse får deres el og varme fra CO2-neutrale energikilder. Ved at omdanne fx. vindmøllernes strøm til brint er det muligt at lagre energien i tanke for (efter behov) at distribuere brinten til de enkelte boliger, hvor brændselsceller her omsætter brinten til strøm og varme i boligen. Læs case om Vestenskov brintsamfund HER

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014