From European Green Cities to the proposed Carbon Zero Digital Platform

european green cities, Carbon Zero Digital Platform
© Jan Kranendonk

Chairman of the board and partner Peder Vejsig Pedersen explores the evolution of the European Green Cities in 1996 to the proposed Carbon Zero Digital Platform in 2021

Based on a number of successful and innovative EU supported solar low energy housing demonstration projects realised in Denmark from 1990 to 1993, Peder Vejsig Pedersen and his company Cenergia took the initiative to organize the European Housing Ecology Network in 1992, which until 1998 realised 9 solar low energy demonstration projects in 7 EU member states.

And as a follow up on this a new European Ecobuilding initiative was realised also involving Solarplan in 1996 by joining 9 European cities into the European Green Cities cooperation, which realised local solar low energy demonstration projects until year 2000. Here Green Cities were an acronym for: Global Renewable Energy and Environmental optimised Neigbourhoods and Cities.

In Denmark it was the city of Copenhagen that was the partner city working with large scale urban renewal at Vesterbro. Together with a number of other initiatives to integrate PV technologies in buildings, also with local RTD support in Denmark, a large number of demonstration projects were created until year 2001, where also the BIPV plan for Valby in Copenhagen had been created in a cooperation with the Urban Renewal Copenhagen company and the city of Copenhagen.

After 2001 the participation in a large European project on BIPV, “Resurgence” secured the continuation of BIPV development and demonstration work, also in a new cooperation with the city of Copenhagen, where the Solar City Copenhagen association was established, and where it was also possible for Peder Vejsig Pedersen and Cenergia to secure funding for the unique demonstration of the CO2 neutral rooftop apartment, SOLTAG in a cooperation which also involved the VELUX company and Urban Renewal Copenhagen together with architect maa. Martin Rubow.

And from 2007 Peder Vejsig Pedersen made a new initiative together with the now established nonprofit company European Green Cities and Urban Renewal Copenhagen which now was a part of the Kuben Management company, to realise an EU Concerto project, “Green Solar Cities”(1), which had a focus on large scale BIPV and solar thermal integration in both Valby in Copenhagen as well as Salzburg in Austria.

Unfortunately, the official policy concerning renewable energy in Denmark has always been based on a “Top Down” procedure, also when it comes to the use of wind energy and district heating technology. In a situation where there is a clear public support to improve the climate and to implement the EU´s Green Deal for Europe, this is very unfortunate and the result is that there is in fact no policy to support the use of local renewable energy technologies at all.

The belief is that what is needed is only large wind energy and solar energy installations, which have a low cost per produced kWh, but at the same time needs large investments in energy infrastructure, while system losses are also high. In practice there is unfortunately no interest in local renewable energy technologies, like f.ex. building integrated PV, BIPV, which can deliver renewable energy directly to electricity consumers.

Supporting the development of CO2 neutral communities in Denmark and in Europe

None the less European Green Cities is still pushing to support the development of CO2 neutral communities in Denmark and in Europe. And here we found that none of the existing certification and labelling schemes in Europe take into account the new challenge that we now face in urban districts of using the renewable energy resources that we have efficiently.

A label is needed that leads designers, users and operation staff to make the right decisions and secure a minimisation of the district carbon footprint.

In a proposed Carbon Zero Digital Label project it has been agreed to develop a Carbon Zero Digital Platform in a cooperation between partners from Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland, and to implement its use at 3 different sites in Denmark with an online documentation of CO2 emission levels both at a building level as well as at a district level.

In these pilot cases the aim has been an ideal combination of a sustainable low energy building design together with Smart Energy solutions for the energy supply system based on optimised use of local renewable energy sources.

One example is the city of Frederiksberg, situated in the center of Copenhagen, working together with their energy supply company, Frederiksberg Forsyning. The focus of the cooperation will be the redevelopment of the former Frederiksberg Hospital area into a new city part. Here an ATES system will be utilised to deliver district cooling for Frederiksberg Forsyning, while the produced” waste heat” will be stored in the ground water below the ground at the site, leading to an increased temperature level, which can be used by heat pumps for the renovated and new build buildings. The energy balance of the ATES system and documentation of the aimed at low temperature operation, as basis of performance demands, will be documented in connection to the “Carbon Zero labelling” work. This will also include results of BIPV production in connection to demands concerning CO2 neutral building.

Pushing the best technologies

An important aim of the proposed Carbon Zero Digital Platform is to support a push for the choice of the best technologies, which will secure the lowest CO2 emissions in practice.

An example of this is to support the aim for the lowest possible district heating temperatures, and in some cases even consider so-called ”ultra” low temperature district heating, where the operation temperatures are typically below 20°C, and you use decentralised heat pumps installed at the users. Barriers for the last-mentioned technology is that it is not a normal district heating solution, and that district heating companies are reluctant to operate and being dependent on a large number of individual heat pumps.

Also, for the ATES technology with ground water based heating and cooling a Carbon Zero Digital Platform can help to secure the choice of the best solutions with the lowest CO2 emissions on a yearly basis. Here it is often seen that the interest for ATES based cooling is the driving force to establish a groundwater-based energy system, while the investment in a heat pump based heating solution is often not done since the economic benefit is not as high. This is unfortunate since it is the combined use that both secure a thermal balance of the groundwater seasonal storage and at the same time secure the lowest CO2 emissions on a yearly basis.

Another example is the use of BIPV technologies (Building Integrated PV). Here it is well known that an LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) calculation is very depended on how the BIPV panels are produced, which means that if you just use the cheapest PV wafers from China, then the total CO2 emission reduction from use of PV is not high, while use of PV panels produced in e.g., Norway to a large extend based on hydropower will lead to the highest total CO2 emission reductions.

And if you use PV panels which also have the possibility to deliver solar heat in the form of PVT modules, then you obviously will get an even higher saving in form of CO2 emission reductions.

A video which is presenting Smart Energy Green Cities work has been made. See the following link: https://vimeo.com/563933723/ccfa928113

(1) Green Solar Cities, Peder Vejsig Pedersen, Jakob Klint, Karin Kappel and Katrine Vejsig Pedersen, Earthscan from Routledge 2015, isbn: 978-0-415-73119-5

Please note: This is a commercial profile

© 2019. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license 

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