The energetic firebrand from Thy

Passion and always one step ahead. This could summarize Lise Fogh Degns efforts for nearly 30 years in Thisted Kommune. She is the elected official behind the first plan for wind mills from the municipality, that triggered an award, the first holistic energy plan and now the crowning glory: Green accounts for the municipality. Next year she turn 60 and now she is retiring. The politicians has just examined the first green set of accounts, which covers the last four years from 2010 to 2014. The Co2 emission has been reduced by 20% in the four years!

  • That is something to be proud of. That goes to show that what we have started is working, says Lise Fogh Degn, proudly.

She thinks of this as her pinnacle, that she can end her carrier with creating a set of green accounts.

  • The special with Thisted is, that there are both citizens, the municipality and the businesses that are pulling in the same direction, when it goes for energy efforts. Many of the ideas has been conceived in public meetings in the municipality, in cooperation with the other actors and in the administration we also created a lot of inputs. It is important to say, that an administration kan do nothing without the proper political  decisions, says Lise Fogh Degn.

First with a plan for wind mills

-Der er ingen tvivl om, at vi i Thisted Kommune er blandt de bedste til at GØRE tingene. Vi er kendt – både for vores mange testcentre – og for at handle og ikke bare snakke, siger hun.

– Der er ingen tvivl om, at vi i Thisted Kommune er blandt de bedste til at GØRE tingene. Vi er kendt – både for vores mange testcentre – og for at handle og ikke bare snakke, siger hun.

She graduated as a urban planning architect and  has always been interested in ecology and the environment. The first assignments she got in Thisted Kommune, when she started in 1986 was about the local and municipality planning. At that time, there was 120 wind mills erected, based on individual cases and rural permissions. She was assigned the windmill planning and after a call to the ministery, the Thisted Kommune was created as an “experimental municipality”. This was the first municipal windmill plan that was created – and the municipality get subsidiaries for investigations and evaluations.

Award gave enthusiasm

  • In 1992 we received the Planning Agencys award “Renewable Energy Award” for  10.000 DKK and a painting for the mayors office for having created the windmill plan. That really gave us a push in the right direction, that we was at the forefront, it was great and we were very enthusiastic about working on this, says Lise Fogh Degn with enthusiasm.

When the plan, four years later was to be revised, Thisted again was at the front. She saw, that the small windmills was getting older and older and that there was being built new and larger mills.

  • Together with the goverments committee for energy politics, we created the “scrapping scheme”, where you could get subsidiaries for dismantling several smaller windmills in favor of larger windmills, says Lise Fogh Degn.
  • That gave the experience of, that when we contacted the right authorities, then we were listened to and we found out that we, as a municipality can something, she says today about the experience from back then.

The heating became the darling

A new assignment landed hereafter on Lises desk – an assignment that became her darling: Heating planning. When the plan from 2003 was about to be revised in 2012 – holistic was again a key concept. Lise helt a joint meeting with all 11 of the heating suppliers in the municipality and all contributed constructively to reduce the fossile fuels. Lise planted the ideas with them to think green. Thisted Kommune has two of Denmarks cheapest heating plants, Thisted and Vesterbig, where they are burning wood chips from Nationalpark Thy. And today there are only two power plants, that is using fossile fuels.

  • They have all been a part of thinking in new directions and use new technologies, we have had an excellent cooperation with all of them, says Lise Fogh Degn.

Respect out and about

Lise Fogh Degn fylder 60 år i 2016 og har i 30 år været med til at stå i spidsen for, at Thisted Kommune har været i front med energitiltag.

Lise Fogh Degn fylder 60 år i 2016 og har i 30 år været med til at stå i spidsen for, at Thisted Kommune har været i front med energitiltag.

For many years she has been the resource person for KL (Kommunernes Landsforening) and has been used as an expert numerous times. She experiences a great deal of respect regarding the work Thisted Kommune  has done, when she is out for meetings or talks:

  • There is no doubt, that we are amonst the best of DOING things. We are known for not just talking, she says..

In 2007 Thisted Kommune receives yet another award: The prestigious  European Solar Award, that is awarded by the European organization Euro-Solar. The award was given for being the municipality in Europe, which was furthest along by using renewable energy sources.

  • That sparked even more thoughts, we didnt quite know that we was this far ahead. We started a branding of Thisted Kommune as the leading climate municipality in the country, and we became one of Denmarks first climate municipalities, which together with Denmark Nature Preservation Society make a deal that, we would reduce the CO2 emissions by 3% each year, says Lise Fogh Degn.

Holistic energy plan

The Solar award inspired Lise Fogh Degn to make a complete, holistic energy plan for Thisted Kommune.

  • There was a lot of excitement those years, because there was a climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. In the plan we went out with everything we had, and we were in Copenhagen and tell about it. Again, people around found out that it actually can be done in real life. We showed, that it could be done right, in a municipality with 46.000 citizens.

The children is the driving force

The professional work with energy and environment has also made its mark on her private residence in Thisted, where Lise lives with her husband Jørgen.

  • A few years ago we had solar panels fittet and have gone through all the house in regards to lighting, so now we have LED light bulbs everywhere. That is a very good feeling and i like the idea of taking care of the environment.

Her own driving force she explains like this:

  • We have four children. I think a lot about how the World will look in the future. The climate crisis is closing in and that is what my children and grandchildren are going to live in, that worries me. In my opinion, we can have growth, even though we are saving the CO2. It just have to be done right.

Freedom and challenges

Almost 30 years in the same work place sounds like a long time. But the freedom and the new challenges has been crucial.

  • I have had a large degree of freedom and have been able to take initiatives, there has been no one that was stopping me. In this way I have all the time had new challenges, and i have constantly learned of the topics. If this was not the case, I would not have stayed this long, she explains.

Home in the garage there will most like come an electrical-bike, and she has dreams about, what the time should be spent upon. There are letters to the editor about the “outskirts”, that need to be written, maybe she should be a volunteer “trail keeper” within the national park and maybe she wants to be a homework helper and there definitely needs to be more travel. Trips into the beautiful nature in Thy and the daily swin in the Limfjord is high on the list. But if there is time, only time will tell, because she has also plans about going into the family company “Degn Design”. It is not easy to leave a work place, where the heart has been in all that has happened..

  • I hope, that the municipality can keep up the spirit in regards to energy- and climate efforts, and that they can see opportunities in brandint itself. Everyone is talking about Thisted Kommune in these contexts, and there is still a lot of possibilities for development, says Lise Fogh Degn.

Municipal institutions have almost halved the oil usage in two years

There are many results: Solar cells on all the schools, new ventilation systems, oil changed with heating pumps, lighting changed and energycontrol on all municipal institutions. It is the energy-guardians Frank Odgaard and Frank Christen from the Technical Administration in Hurup, who guarantees, that Thisted Kommune is far ahead with the energy sacings – and they have full speed ahead. 5 millions. This much has the municipal each year set aside for investments in energy savings.

  • From this we create a plan for each year, so we get an overview of where it would be most profitable to invest. There is always an investment – and a saving and then we calculate the pay back period and is it below 10 years we normally start, explains Frank Christensen.

He is a mechanical engineer and has previously advised on VVS and ventilation, and has been an energy label consultant for large buildings, within the 17 years since he came to Thisted kommune.

All buildings are energy labelled Since 2009 all public schoole in Thisted Kommune has had solar cells fitted – and ten other municipal buildings, amongst other so has the swimming pool in Hurup. Boiler facilities and circulation pumps has been replaced. A series of oil fueled furnaces has been changed with heating pumps and within the last two years all buildings has been checked in regards to lighting. In the period 2009-2010 all the municipal buildings was energy labeled. That is required by law and the idea is to get an overview over the total energy consumption and find out where savings can be made..

  • Most of the energy labels are valid for 7 years, so in 2016-2017 all the buildings must be validated again, says Frank Christensen.

Drastic fall fald in oil usage The statistics show a large fall in oil usage – actually almost halved – more precisely 45% less oil has been used in the period from 2012-2014.  And now the municipal are buying oil for three million DKK less each year, than when they began the energy effort.

  • But we expect that the power consumption will drop even more the comming years, when we change everything to LED lighting. However you need to be aware that we are using more and more things that require a computer (computers, smartboards and info screens etc.), so we have a purpose of saving electricity even if there are more and more things that is consuming electricity, says Frank Christensen.

Another example is, that there is always a place to make an effort, the libraries should e.g. have longer opening hours.

  • That would give a larger usage, but then we decided to renovate the lighting in Hurup and Hanstholm departments, and in spite of the longer opening hours, the total electricity consumption has dropped with 50%, says Frank Christensen.

Also the school reform affects the electrical usage, because now the schools are open longer, so there is always a place to make an effort to create new savings.

Energy control in 200 buildings At the same time with the energy labelling and all the energy actions Thisted Kommune has create energy control on all the 200 municipal buildings. That is Frank Odgaard, who is heading the monitoring of the 300.000 M2, which has meant the installation of measuring devices and electronical monitoring system at all the locations.

  • In this way we can always keen an eye on the usage, and we can see if there are errors in the buildings. The janitors can also contact me straight away if there are fluctuations, says Frank Odgaard.

He is a building engineer and has been chief of production for 25 years in different production businesses, before he, seven years ago was hired in the energy label and energy control department in Thisted Kommune. He is experiencing a large interest for the energy work in the municipal institutions.

  • The janitors are really doing a large effort, it is them, who has the overview in the daily work. They are our front line men and women and they notify me if they experience irregularities, this way we can look into it straight away, says Frank Odgaard.

Energiscreening saved more than 200.000 DKK per year

It is dusty and noisy in the large hall – and it is smelling intensely of straw. Here on the large facility at Højgaard Halmpiller in the middle of Thy, thousands of straw-pellets are produced each day – and that consumes a lot of energy. A year ago the generator used 85.000 litres of diesel fuel each year. Today the generator has been scrapped and the company have welcomed  the green power and are saving more than 200.000 DKK each year..

Finn Gramstrup Larsen

It was only because of the energy advisors calculations that it went through with the bank, so I am very happy that i got that screening, says Finn Gramstrup Larsen, who is the owner of Højgaard Halmpiller.

The owner of Højgaard Halmpiller, Finn Gramstrup Larsen, had been to the bank to loan to scrap the generator, which used so much diesel fuel. The bank declined the loan and Finn Gramstrup Larsen had to accept to use 85.000 litres of diesel fuel in the generator each year. But at the fair last summer he, coincidentally, met energy consultant Jan Høilund Christen from Engko and heard about Thisted Kommunes offer for energy screenings. He accepted the offer, and the energy advisor calculated that with an investment of half a million DKK he could save more than 200.000 every year. At the same time Finn Gramstrup Larsen found out that he could acrually get 105.000 DKK in subsidiaries for the project.

The calculations was a yes So he took the calculations to the bank for a second meeting.

  • When they saw the calculations, and what the savings and the payback period was, then is suddenly was possible, and that was good, says Finn Gramstrup Larsen.

Specifically he had the generator dismountet and in stead there was fittet power. Siz powerfull cables connected to its own switchyard it took to deliver the power Højgaard Halmpiller needed. The investment will be paid back within 2-3 years, so he is quite happy with taking this next step.

  • It was only due to the energy advisors calculations that it went through with the bank, so I am very happy that i got this screening, says Finn Gramstrup Larsen.
Det er en meget energikrævende proces at lave halmpiller, men ved at skifte generatoren ud, der slugte en masse olie og bruge el, er produktionen blevet billigere.

It is a very energy demanding process to make straw-pellets, but by changing the generator, which used a lot of diesel fuel, to power, the production is now more cost efficient.

Mill on the way He has been farming since 1983, but because of the financial crisis, he and his son decided to try with straw-pellets. Today they have a large production and delivers pellets to the entire country. Straw-pellets is a new bedding product that is used for horses, cattle, pigs, poultry and small animals.  The thought of green actions pays off has taken hold here on the farm, which is located on one of the highest locations in Thy. The view is in clear weather from Hanstholm Fyr to the North to the lights on the windmills in Thyborøn to the South. And here the wind is often blowing from the West. So the next action with Højgaard Halmpiller is to get a local small wind turbine, and the application has already been sent to the municipality.

Have your company energy screened in cooperation with independent energy advisors, Thisted Kommune offers energy screenings for local businesses. The goal is to create 25 screenings each year from 2015-2018. The initiative is a part of Thisted Kommunes Energy- and resource policy, and in 2016 there will again be opened for a new set of screenings.

Wind mills should provide leverage for developing the community

Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy are working on models for how the community will be happy with the wind mills and in turn get subsidiaries for developing the community. Read more

Yearly heating cost of only 1.300 DKK and a perfect indoor climate

It took a year to convinse the credit union, that they should allow a loan to a passive house Read more

Solar heating saves a lot of money and several tonnes of CO2

Hanstholm Camping is each year saving several hundred thousand DKK on their heating by using solar heating. Read more

’Green Scheme’ supported an excersise course in Østerild

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Saving Money on Heating in Agger

In December 2010 the Kristensen family in Agger discarded a brand new oil burner in favor of the more environmentally friendly district heating.
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Energy Certification Proves Effective

New electric installations at Rolighedsskolen, a public school in Thisted, have resulted in a more than 25 % reduction in the school’s power consumption or more than 60,000kWh. This is one of the tangible results of the issuing of energy certificates to all public buildings in Thisted Municipality. Read more

Thisted opens the Doors to Energy Tourists

All around Thy 40 energy sights are ready to welcome businessmen, scientists, students and groups to experience how Thisted Municipality in Denmark has become self-sufficient in energy. Read more