Green transition in rural areas in Central Denmark

Green transition in rural areas in Central Denmark

RoundBaltic has actively supported the Central Denmark Region in setting up a regional platform / focal point for financing energy efficiency in private homes ideally supporting homeowners through project development assistance and one-stop-shop services.

Overall, the challenge is establishing and funding a network cooperation of municipalities and other stakeholders along the value chain in relation to coordinating efforts and sharing capacity and capability through a regional focal point (ideally operated as a one-stop-shop). The network should potentially aggregate and standardize project development assistance and documentation across municipalities to increase quality of projects and trust at homeowners and financing institutions.

The region has taken an initiative towards establishing a regional structure supporting conversions to alternative heat supply and energy renovations in areas where DH is not feasible, and notably in the rural areas. Later this is planned expanded to energy renovations inside the DH area, which currently is facilitated by municipalities. There is some inter-municipal cooperation in relation to this, but a regional focus point may enhance this. Further there is an inter-municipal cooperation in relation to Strategic Climate and Energy Planning (DK2020), where all 19 municipalities have made plans according to C40 standards (comparable with SECAPs).

As to the initial focus on rural areas it is worth underlining that this is an important part of the strategic development in the region, to create life and growth in outskirt areas. According to Statistics Denmark, almost 34% of the buildings in the region are heated with heat sources that must be replaced within a short number of years with a more sustainable and CO2 neutral solution, most of these located in the rural area. 34% of the region’s population lives in or outside cities with less than 3,000 inhabitants.

Central Denmark Region has by own means supported several projects with a view to exploring and creating a joint and solid decision-making basis for the choice of common alternative energy sources. The goal is to mobilize citizens, utilities, and decision-makers and to help them identify the right knowledge and decision-making basis to implement the right energy solutions locally.

Of other initiatives can be mentioned the Annual Village Day which was held two days after the second regional RoundBaltic roundtable, and where villages and potential energy communities were invited to get inspiration for how they can energy-renovate their house and change their heating source.

Annual Village Day "SPIRING"

On Village Day, more than 200 enthusiasts, professionals and politicians from the entire region met in the future village of Spiring for presentations, experiences, debate and idea development.

Conclusions from RoundBaltic Roundtables supporting further actions

  • The region has by own means supported initiation of projects in the rural area to facilitate green transition (heat supply and energy renovations) – approx. 24 projects. The goal is to mobilize citizens, utilities, and decision-makers and to help them identify the right knowledge and decision-making basis for implementing the right energy solutions locally.
  • The feedback from these projects and the RoundBaltic roundtables will feed into setting up a regional support structure, in the first round for the rural area. Various project and funding opportunities are considered. This is done as part of the regional development strategy for rural development.
  • The roundtables have further contributed to enhance the link with the financial sector towards financing energy renovations as well as alternative heat supply systems in the rural area and including how to cope with the challenges in the rural area (private banks and pension sector).
  • All municipalities have developed DK2020 plans (strategic energy and climate plans) and a new cross-regional project is starting up at the end of 2023 focusing on monitoring and implementation. This will look into adopting experience and activities from the RoundBaltic project.

Thermonet Systems

Conversion to individual heat pumps is a possible alternative energy source in rural areas, but the collective alternative “Termonet”, which is based on a common primary circuit for heat pumps, is generally considered a more economical and technically advantageous solution and is not associated with noise nuisance. The heat pumps and the thermonet can be supplemented with electricity-producing renewable energy plants in the form of solar cells and possibly wind turbines and contribute to balancing the load on the collective electricity supply network. The region has within 2021 – 2023 been involved in the INTERREG-ÖKS project  “COOLGEOHEAT” which has aimed at promoting thermonet systems supplying a smaller number of buildings in villages etc.

Within EUCF (European City Facility) two projects were initiated in 2022 involving two of the municipalities in the Region (and SUSTAIN) to develop an investment concept promoting investments of 96 MEUR in termonet systems across the region and Denmark.

As to the Thermonet systems there is currently a need for clarification of legal aspects as to whether Thermonet is considered as a district heating system and thereby covered by the Heat Act. This is currently a main barrier for project progress, as it is unclear who to own and operate the systems (DH companies or private enties eg energy communities).

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