Happy New Year from the future

Where better to celebrate the arrival of the new year then where the energy transition future is already happening?

City of Sønderborg in the southern Denmark has started its journey in December 2018, when the Council approved plan for reducing emissions by 75 per cent by 2025, and kickstart of the  ProjectZero  developing a CO2-netural Sønderborg area by 2029.

With combination of extension of disctict heating network, installing more PVs, windmills and heat pumps to opening new biogas plant, and scrapping of heating with oil furnaces this work is well under way.

Furthermore, Sønderborg ProjectZero is a great practical example of sector integration. Many of the initiatives stars as a dialogue between of wide range of businesses from manufacturing and transport, to tourism and building developers. In addition, this actively involves local government and the community. What we often jaw-jaw in Brussels about energy transition, is live and kicking here in Sønderborg.

For my stay in Sønderborg I choose Alsik hotel that seems the best showcase of the ProjectZero. Combining smart building technologies, energy efficiency and application of range of renewable energy sources, the hotel and spa complex is already 76% CO2 neutral. 

For example, the facade is made out of recycled metal, the concrete used of natural materials, inside of the building equipped with smart energy systems anticipating user behaviour, hot water preprocessing with electro light, and surplus heat storage system for efficient recycling of the energy. With further integration of renewable electricity, such as wind energy from the windmill park Lillebaelt, Alsik aims to become 100% CO2-neutral.

Many of these high ambitions in Sønderborg – to achieve sustainable, efficient and technologies integrated energy future – originate from Danfoss and Mads Clausen Foundation. This is unsurprising, as in my decades of work in sustainable energy advocacy (from district heating at Euroheat & Power, to industrial energy efficiency at EEIP) Danfoss remains one of the leading European companies both in implementing of wide-range of energy technologies, and in supporting sustainable energy advocacy across Europe.

So Happy New Year and well done Sønderborg! I am happy that I can start 2020 – this mythical year for EU energy policy – already from the future.

smartEn launches the Network Tariffs and Taxes Map 2019

This new tool aims to bring visibility on smart energy solutions in the energy system and help identify and overcome the hurdles that are still hindering developments in Europe.

Tariffs, taxes and other levies are key components in the energy policy discussion. After all, they represent a significant share of total energy costs for households – often more than half of their energy bill.

Unfortunately, the current tariff and tax design has been defined in a different age to the one we need in 2020 and beyond. The world is moving towards flexibility and the engagement of decentralized energy users for the integration of variable energy resources.

Current network tariffs, however, often send mixed signals to market participants, not always reflecting the needs of today’s energy system. Beyond this, taxes are typically rigid – blunting relevant price signals from the market or the network.

New advances in concentrated solar power

Clean energy startup Heliogen is developing a promising concentrated solar technology that could produce renewable process heat at extreme temperatures, while China continues its intense program of constructing new CSP plants.

A recent article on the CNN Business website claims that a secretive startup backed by Bill Gates has achieved a solar breakthrough aimed at saving the planet.

The startup is called Heliogen, a clean energy company that says it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000˚C. In essence, they have made an extremely hot solar oven.

Palazzo della Farnesina. Boosting energy efficiency in the public sector

FEDERESCO, the Italian Association of Energy Saving Companies, designed a plan in 2016 for the implementation of several energy efficiency measures at the Palazzo della Farnesina in Rome, the historical building where the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs resides.

Fact sheet

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
  • Rome, Italy


  • 1,166 tCO2 emission reduction per year
  • Energy savings of 270 toe/year

One of Italy’s biggest public complexes

The Palazzo della Farnesina, designed in 1935, is located in the Italic Forum, between Monte Mario and the Tiber river, and is the current headquarters of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With more than 1,300 rooms and nine floors, and a façade 169 meters long and 51 meters high, the Palace covers an area of 120,000 m² and has a built volume of 720,000 m3. La Farnesina is, together with the Royal Palace of Caserta, one of Italy’s biggest public complexes.

Solar-bioenergy villages in Germany prove successful

Several bioenergy villages with combined biomass and solar heat supply are being realized in Germany. We look at one of them in detail: Hallerndorf in Bavaria.

Since the end of 2016, close cooperation between the village of Hallerndorf in Bavaria and their energy supplier NATURSTROM AG has resulted in 100% renewable heat.

The required heat quantity of 3 million kWh per year is generated by an innovative combination of biomass and solar energy. This ensures efficient capacity utilisation and a reliable supply to the connected households. It also saves nearly a quarter of a million litres of heating oil per year.

Will airline emissions be taxed?

DecarbEurope partner Transport & Environment is lobbying the EU’s next vice-president for climate, Frans Timmermans, to work with countries to more effectively price airlines’ carbon emissions, including ending their fuel tax exemption.

Finance ministers in nine countries want EU action on taxing airline emissions

According to Transport & Environment, finance ministers from nine European countries have called on the EU to work harder to put a price on aviation’s carbon pollution. In a statement, the group, which includes Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, asked the incoming European Commission to help end the under-taxation of aviation, the most carbon-intensive mode of transport.

Europe’s largest solar process heat system launched

Last week we brought you news of Europe’s biggest floating solar plant. This week we highlight Europe’s largest solar process heat system

The largest solar process heat system in Europe opened in October 2019 in Heerhugowaard in the Netherlands. It consists of 9,300 m² of solar collectors that provide 5,000 MWh of renewable heat to the Tesselaar Freesia company, which specializes in the sustainable cultivation of freesias.