Jen Gorke

Senior Director at Travaglini, Scorzoni, & Kiley LLC

Christian Scorzoni, Jen Benson, Jen Gorke, Jeff Roy

Reflecting on a truly amazing experience touring Denmark last week with some of the Commonwealth’s leading business and community leaders, policymakers and academics. Thank you to The Alliance for Business Leadership, the Barr Foundation, and UMass Boston for organizing such an interesting, productive and fun tour of Denmark’s green transition. I look forward to combining what I learned about Denmark’s climate innovation, planning creativity and use of public-private partnerships with the relationships I built this past week to work toward inclusive climate action in the Commonwealth!

Highlights of the trip for me included: 

  • Port Esbjerg: Once a leading port of fishing and oil and gas, the Port today reflects the results of a green transition, handling more shipping for the offshore wind industry than other port in Europe.
  • Samso Island: This island municipality has completely transformed its energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energy, becoming the world’s first renewable energy island. Samso is carbon negative and boasts 100% ownership of renewable energy investments. They have ushered in this transition while putting the community at the center of thinking and planning about this green transition. 
  • Middelgrunden Wind Farm: The world’s largest offshore wind farm when it opened in 2001, the farm consists of 20 turbines equally shared by its developers and a private cooperative partnership. 
  • Nordhavn: This harbor area, formerly an industrial shipyard, is on track to support Copenhagen’s vision to become the first carbon neutral city. Development in Nordhavn is focused on design and planning that supports complex urban life, business, and areas that promote rest and recreation.
  • Coppenhill: The cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world, Copenhill is an incredible example of creativity and multi-purpose design with tree-lined hiking trails up the building, a ski slope on its roof and a climbing wall on its facade. 

June 7: Presentations from State of Green, Danish Energy Agency, and DanishConfederation of Industry 

Overview: A review of the green movement in Denmark, explanations on the policies that led to success and their goals for the future, and an overview of the partnerships with private industries working toward a greener, net-zero future. 

The Green Movement in Denmark is considered to be one of the most ambitious national climate mitigation strategies in the world. While the country has taken notable strides to become less reliant on fossil fuels since the late 20th Century, the year 2020 marked a major turning point for the nation when the Danish Climate Act was passed. With this act, the current government has agreed to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent compared to 1990 levels by the year 2030, working towards net-zero by the year 2050 (at the latest). In order to achieve these goals, Denmark’s government will establish and present annual plans, with concrete initiatives to reach carbon neutrality across all sectors, including energy, housing, industry, transportation, energy efficiency, agriculture, land use change and forestry.

Essential to achieving these ambitious goals for the future are public-private climate partnerships spearheaded by industry leaders. As part of this major strategy, the public sector’s role involves setting long-term goals and conditions, while the private sector works to provide and produce the innovative solution and investments needed to achieve the goals. The partnerships established as part of these efforts will progress local initiatives while supporting the national agenda.

State of Green

Overview: A not-for-profit, public-private partnership established in 2008
Owned by the Danish state and three leading Danish business associations
Primary role is to bring together Danish businesses, agencies, academic institutions, experts and researchers, aiming to facilitate dialogue and spur international partnerships

Danish Energy Agency

Overview: An agency under the Ministry of Climate, Energy & Utilities, established in 1976

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners

Overview: Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) is a fund management company specializing in tailor-made investments in energy infrastructure assets globally – in particular within renewables and the greenfield segment. Established in 2012, they are pioneers in taking their approach and methods global and in realizing a profitable green energy transition based on high ESG standards.

CIP is a trusted partner in projects across a wide range of technologies including offshore wind, onshore wind, solar PV, biomass and energy-from-waste, transmission and distribution, reserve capacity and storage, and other energy assets like Power-to-X. Their team consists of highly experienced specialists with relevant industrial backgrounds and skills within engineering, structuring and de-risking, construction and operation, as well as mergers & acquisitions and project financing. The CIP team comprises over 300 professionals across over 30 nationalities.
Further reading:

Tour of Middelgrunden Wind Farm

Overview: Since the wind farm was proposed in 1996, Middelgrunden Offshore Wind Farm has grown to become a world-famous attraction. The wind farm was built in Oresund, a location 3.5km offshore, that was previously used as a dumping area for building materials. The construction began in 2000 and was completed the same year, after a series of public hearings from 1997 to 1999. The wind farm produces up to 85,000MWh of power annually, which makes up about three percent of Copenhagen’s total power consumption. The farm is made up of 20 turbines shared by its developers, Københavns Energi and Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug, a private cooperative partnership with an investment of $60 million.

The turbines of the Middelgrunden Offshore Wind Farm produce up to two megawatts each and altogether span 3.4km by 1 hectare. To prevent corrosion from constant exposure to salt water, the turbines are protected by a high-grade corrosion resistant paint, as well as internal climate control, an automatic lubrication system, and built-in cranes for servicing. The cranes allow for easy servicing of the turbines in case of problems. The foundations of the turbines are also capped to prevent damage from North Sea ice. The power produced by the turbines is transmitted to the central (tenth) turbine, and then routed to the Amagar power station in eastern Denmark via a 30kV subsea cable.

Tour of CopenHill

Overview: CopenHill is the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world, capable of converting 440,000 tons of waste into clean energy annually. More than that, it is a futuristic piece of public infrastructure, with tree-lined hiking trails, ski slopes on its roof, and the alleged “tallest artificial climbing wall in the world” on its facade.

Located in an industrial area near the city center, the plant aspires to become an exemplary model in the field of waste management and energy production that aligns with Copenhagen’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. As an architectural landmark, the original idea of CopenHill dates back to 2002, when Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) proposed to insert a ski-slope topography above the largest department store in the densest area of Copenhagen. The idea didn’t come to fruition until 2011, when the firm and an associated consortium won an international design competition for Copenhagen’s waste-to-energy plant.

The waste management facility started operations in 2017 and the artificial skiing slope and recreational hiking area opened on top of the building in 2019. Today, CopenHill not only delivers electricity and district heating to 680,000 people in 150,000 homes every day, but also serves as a model of public infrastructure that contributes to the social life of the citizens and the sustainability goals of Copenhagen.

June 8: Presentation from Samsø Island, Visit to US Ambassador’s Residence

Presentation from Samsø Energy Island 

Overview: Samsø, a rural island off the coast of Denmark is the world’s first renewable energy island. Among other achievements, the island has become carbon negative, has 100% local ownership of renewable energy investments, and has studied and experienced significant socio-economic benefits from its green transition. 

Visit to US Ambassador’s Residence

Overview: Full Delegation: Briefing from the U.S. Embassy and Chargé d’Affaires ad

interim Jim Boughner.

June 6: Esbjerg, Ribe

Monday, June 6

Tour Port of Esbjerg with Port CEO Dennis Jul Pedersen
Visit to the Village of Ribe & Ribe Cathedral

About the Port of Esbjerg
Since 1874, the Port of Esbjerg has been the main center for sea carriage and trade between Denmark and the rest of the world. Today, the Port of Esbjerg is an international, multimodal transport center and an important Scandinavian gateway to the world. More than 200 companies employing over 10,000 people are located at the port.

Known as Denmark’s largest fishing port during most of the 20th century, it became the primary base for the Danish oil and gas industry when the Danish Underground Consortium (DUC) discovered the first traces of oil in the North Sea in 1966 and started large-scale extraction from 1971.
In the early 2000s, several companies located in Esbjerg contributed to build Horns Rev I, the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the North Sea, kickstarting the rapid development of offshore wind power in Denmark. Today, more than 80% of the current offshore wind capacity installed in Europe was shipped from the Port of Esbjerg, making it the leading port in terms of handling and shipping of wind power in the continent.

Ribe Cathedral: Church of Our Lady

Ribe is an ancient and significant village on the coast of Jutland, Denmark. It gained power as a trading city and became known as the gateway to the west, welcoming traders from all over Northern Europe. It is not surprising that this worldly city would allow the first Christian church in Denmark to be built in 855.

Ansgar, the Apostle of the North, requested land and the opportunity to build a church from King Horik. The Danes still worshipped the Norse Gods Odin, Thor, and Freyja, but the King allowed Christians to worship alongside his people. In 965, King Herald Bluetooth officially converted Denmark to Christianity, after 100 years of mostly peaceful religious acceptance.

This first building was a simple church of timber construction and was active until around 1150 when the current Cathedral construction began around the simple building. Archeologists have uncovered 82 Christian burial grounds (2000-3000 Christian Viking burials) during this time.

The current Cathedral’s construction lasted from 1150 to approximately 1220. It was originally designed and building began in the Romanesque basilica style of the early Middle Ages, but gradually took on elements of the Gothic style during construction – adding a vaulted ceiling, gothic arched windows and side chapels along the long nave.

The cathedral houses several significant examples of art from this period including the sculpture above the “Cat’s Head Door” depicting the removal of Christ from the Cross, considered the greatest example of Romanesque sculpture in Denmark. The oldest sepulchral monuments in Denmark are also found in the cathedral, the most significant of which is the 1231 work commissioned by King Valdemer for his son.

The cathedral has been through several natural and man made disasters including floods, wars, and fires. It has also gone through many updates, a particularly significant period of renovation took place during the Protestant Reformation of 1536, removing the side chapels to expand the nave into the only 5 aisle cathedral in Denmark. During the 1600 war with the Swedes, the cathedral was outfitted with canons to defend the region and was used as a military lookout and stronghold.

Today, the cathedral has suffered through a changing landscape, sinking in comparison to the rising land around it. It resides in a depression, making it more vulnerable to climate change influenced by increased flooding, threatening it’s foundation. But the cathedral welcomes in the modern world though newly commissioned art, adding a rarely seen integration of modern and middle aged religious art and iconography in the most historically and architecturally significant religious structure in Denmark.

Day of Arrival

On the day of arrival the Delegation started off with a 3 hour bike tour of Copenhagen. This tour focused on sustainability and diversity throughout 2 areas of the city, detailed below.

Sustainable Neighborhoods Cycling Tour Stops:

● Dronning Louises Bro: the lakes and biking

● Blågårdsplads + blågårdsgade: intro Nørrebro

● Folkets hus / People’s house + Kirkens korshær (homelessness)

● Assistens Cemetery

● Jægersborggade

● Nørrebro “heart”: intro Red square

● The black square: Superkilen

● Residence streets (Aldersrogade): Intro Østerbro

● Skt Kjelds Square

● Østergro: Urban farming and climate neighborhood

● Tåsinge Plads

● Fælledparken

● Mærsk tower (Cross the flying bridge along the Mærsk tower to


● Byoasen / the old people’s city

What we learned.

Goal Setting

Denmark has a focus on the UNSDG’s and a national goal of

70% reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2030. There has also been

great interest in the development of shared living communities in Denmark,

and many of the projects have sustainability and Net Zero as goals for their

construction and way of life. The certification is based on Deposit Guaranty

National Bank (DGNB) which is inspired by similar projects in Germany.

Changing focus on sustainability and lifestyle assessment in Denmark

building regulation.

Pollution and Efficiency

Copenhagen for example, has made tremendous strides with regards to

mobility and pollution efforts. By far their biggest focus is on energy use, as

it makes up about 80% of their carbon neutral plan to cut down on their

consumption. Copenhagen uses one of the world’s largest and most

successful district heating systems that works by using a network of pipes

to capture leftover heat from electricity production, then delivers the heat to

homes across the city. 99% of all households in Copenhagen are links are

very efficient district heating system. They have also introduced the district

cooling where they take the cold out of the water and the harbor and

distribute cold in the pipes beside the district heating pipes to help reduce

temperature in buildings, server rooms, and factories. So far, they have

reduced electricity use for cooling down buildings 70%.

Makeeba McCreary and Margaret Gatonye

Cycling in Denmark

Copenhagen is internationally known as one of the best bike cities in the

world. Working toward Denmark’s goal to become carbon neutral, the

capital city’s infrastructure has become bike-friendly in recent years to help

enhance urban health and livability. Cycling became more popular across

Danish cities throughout the latter half of the 20th century when the shocks

of the global oil crisis in the 1970s hit the industrial city hard. Since then,

cities across the country, Copenhagen in particular, continue to allocate

municipal investments in cycling-friendly infrastructure. The City’s

investments have contributed to a noticeable increase in commuters

cycling to school and work, particularly in the last decade. Cycling in

Copenhagen is not only a significant part of daily life for residents, but it

has also become a major tourist attraction as the city exemplifies the

possibilities of urban life that is less reliant on motorized transit. As

Copenhagen continues to move towards carbon-neutrality, cycling will only

become a more significant piece of the city’s identity.