Gold is green

A good humoured Danish Climate Minister attended the second network meeting of Hub North.

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Klima- og energiminister Lykke Friis

”Gold is no longer black – it is green. And it can be reaped if you know where your expertise lies and you know where demand lies.

Climate Minister Lykke Friis was direct in her speech to members of the new business network, Hub North, when she met them on Wednesday, 9 June in Aalborg Congress and Culture Centre. This was the network’s second meeting and already with an important visit from the country’s commander in chief in climate and energy.

The climate minister, who was curious to meet Denmark’s new cluster within wind energy, had agreed to meet the new business network despite a tight schedule in North Jutland.

”It is important to strengthen the clusters we have around the country. It is also okay to strengthen one’s own cluster, as long as there is a good balance between the competition and the collaboration with operators in other parts of the country. Each of the different clusters knows very well where their own expertise lies”, the minister said to Hub North during the meeting in Aalborg.

Lykke Friis does not appear to be concerned that each network will isolate itself with its own expertise and its own products, but at the same time encourages them always to think in larger communities.

For her, the most important thing is that Denmark remains a leader in the field.

”We have much to offer and demonstrate in terms of green solutions. I saw this most recently when Russian president Medvedev was visiting Denmark and wanted to see Green Lighthouse, Denmark’s first public CO2-neutral building. The last time we had a visit from a Russian president – Khrushchev in 1964 – his wish was to see the grave of the unknown soldier on Funen, the minister pointed out.

Stay at the forefront

“Wind energy, in particular, will be pivotal within energy supply in Denmark. It is also absolutely necessary for three important reasons. We must think of securing the long-term supply. CO2 emissions must be reduced, and wind energy is an investment in future growth and competition. The wind turbines are the symbol of the future, and we must lead in the green race.

The climate minister promised that a plan would be ready before the end of the year, but she offered neither a bag of money nor specific promises of funding to participate in the green race.

”Innovation and courage create growth and jobs. Subsidy schemes are not enough. Green ideas must be hatched.”

The price for and cost of sustainable energy was a recurring theme for both the Hub North members and their guest, Lykke Friis.

”Consumers should get the most energy possible for their money”, acknowledged the climate minister in response to a question from the audience. “That is an interesting question, and we are also wearing both belts and braces in the ministry and doing lots of analyses. Sustainable energy is not free and is not necessarily cheap. But status quo, that is, fossil fuels, is also costly.

Østerild must not frighten

Offshore wind turbines versus land wind turbines were also discussed at length.

Lykke Friis was outspoken:

”It is undeniably far better to erect offshore wind turbines.”

That made one audience member ask for more support for land-based wind turbines – also for the sake of the municipalities planning the locations. The minister was urged not to be scared off by the heated Østerild debate, because ”it happened in hot haste”.

”We must of course learn from the process and not allow ourselves to be scared. There will also be more land-based wind turbines, but most wind turbines will be erected offshore. We must maintain popular support”, the minister exclaimed.

Aalborg University left the meeting with some homework. One of the participants in the delegation from the university proposed an experimentarium, where e.g. planning and procedures within research, development and production of the wind industry can be established.

– Can Aalborg University fix it?, the minister asked.

”Yes, of course we can”, was the answer.

”Denmark must be a green IQ magnet. We must have greater Danish visibility with regard to education.That would be a good bridgehead”, said Lykke Friis.

The Climate Minister concluded with the promise that her ministry, together with the tax ministry, is in the process of considering a revision of legislation with regard to taxes and fees.