Energy democracy: Alive and well in Denmark

Preben Maegaard starts off the WFC parliamentary hearing on 100% RE in European Regions by making a case for a democratisation of the energy sector

Given that 19 per cent of electricity in Denmark comes from wind power, why would 155 local groups and organisations protest wind energy projects? The answer, as Preben Maegaard, renewable energy pioneer and Director of the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy, explains, lies in how wind energy is being developed: these particular projects were proposed as privately owned for-profits. With three-quarters of the country’s wind turbines being owned by cooperatives, it is no surprise that this did not sit well with the local communities, which wholeheartedly support wind energy initiatives – developed by democratic means. That means allowing everyone to participate in the decentralised development of renewable energy so that citizens, communities, and farmers as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises benefit from the regional added value.

Energy democracy and decentralisation of energy production are focal themes of the World Future Council‘s parliamentary hearing on 100% Renewable Energy in European Regions, held at the Folkecenter in Thy, Denmark. We will pick up the debate on centralised versus decentralised again later this week.

October 5, 2012   3 Comments

5 cases of regenerative urbanisation

A new model of urbanisation, powered by renewable energy and defined by a regenerative, mutually beneficial relationship between cities, rural areas and ecosystems, is urgently needed. At the World Future Council we advocate going beyond sustainable cities to regenerative cities. The long term target for cities should be ‘regenerating’ the same amount of resources as they absorb. This refers to both their ecological footprint and the ecological burden of all materials used, for example, in buildings. Here are five examples where some aspect of regenerative urbanisation is already a reality.

1. Urban food and agriculture – Havana

© Toronto Green Community Garden

Producing food locally, even in an urban environment, means shorter transport routes and less processing and packaging. These parts of the value chain consume more than a third of all energy used for food production in the US. Limiting these activities can substantially reduce the carbon footprint of each meal. In response to severe shortages in food, pesticides and petroleum after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cubans began cultivating vegetables wherever they could, including lots in downtown Havana and other urban spaces throughout the island. The urban agriculture movement was first led by the people but [Read more →]

June 28, 2012   5 Comments

Calgary’s zero waste metabolism

Photo credit: City of Calgary

When one thinks of Calgary, the first thing that comes to mind has to be the world-renowned Calgary Stampede, never more so than this summer when it celebrates its centennial. A lesser-known fact about the city, but one that should give Calgarians as much pride as the annual rodeo, is the ‘zero waste’ metabolism exhibited by the city’s wastewater management scheme. [Read more →]

May 7, 2012   Comments Off on Calgary’s zero waste metabolism