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Climate change: What are the regions doing?

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The 2015 edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine focuses on climate change and what cities and regions are doing.

Photo: Symbiosis Center

Photo: Symbiosis Center Denmark We don’t talk about waste - only about A huge network of large green steam pipelines connecting the industries in Kalundborg is the only visible sign of the symbiosis. resources Waste from one industry is a valuable resource for another. The world’s first industrial symbiosis is over forty years old and has saved companies millions. By Lisbeth Kirk heavy trucks with trailer fill the roads like busy ants. Norway’s oil giant Statoil Refining Denmark refines crude oil out here. Enormous oil tankers bring the crude directly from the North Sea rigs into Kalundborg’s deepwater harbour. The industrial sites also house Paris-based Saint- Gobain Gyproc, which produces plasterboard It is all big business and heavy industry. But it is also the world’s first working industrial symbiosis. Agood deal of the world’s diabetes medication comes from Novo Nordisk’s pharmaceutical factory in Kalundborg, an industrial area 100 km straight west of Copenhagen, Denmark. Electricity from DONG’s coal-fired power plant in the same area lights large parts of Region Zealand. The huge white-smoking pipes can be seen from afar and Industries in the area have organised an efficient exchange of resources, securing that waste from one industry is not wasted but used as a valuable resource for another. “The origins of the industrial symbiosis here dates back to 1961, but nobody knew at the time it was a symbiosis. It was simply common sense and has grown organic”, explains Mette Skovbjerg, head of Symbiosis Center Denmark. 26 ––––– EUobserver Magazine 2015

It all began when Statoil wanted to build the refinery Photo: EUobserver It all began when Statoil wanted to build the refinery. There was much local concern because the processes would consume a lot of drinking water which was a limited resource in the area. The solution was to build a pipeline and pump extra surface water from a lake 12 km away to the refinery. “It was really the lack of resources, that kicked it off. We don’t talk about waste here anymore - but we talk a lot about resources”, says Mette Skovbjerg. “The story goes that workers on Gyproc saw the “eternal” flame burning at the refinery every day on their way to work and thought all the energy could be used to dry plaster plates”. She offers a few examples. other industries in the symbiosis through pipes. They use it as cheap energy for their pharmaceutical and other production. Another example. When the coal burns in Dong’s power plant, it releases sulfur dioxide, which is a major cause of acid rain. It is mandatory for DONG to clean the smoke. But through the symbiosis cooperation it can sell its residue (gypsum) to Paris-based Saint-Gobain rather than it being a waste problem. Moreover, it saves Gyproc from importing, transporting, and crushing gypsum. The water used at Statoil’s refinery is passed on to Dong’s power plant that burns coal to make the steam that turns turbines and generates electricity. A huge network of large green steam pipelines connecting the industries in Kalundborg is the only visible sign of the symbiosis. The electricity is consumed in the wider region, while the steam is led further on to Novo Nordisk and the The companies make all deals with each other on a private and strictly-business basis and save an estimated €80 million on the symbiosis. This also adds to the companies’ green accounting. The lower production costs also makes the area so competitive there is currently a local lack of specialised craftsmen. “The industrial symbiosis does not cost the tax-payers anything. The municipality is only facilitating the Industries in the area have organised an efficient exchange of resources, securing that waste from one industry is not wasted but used as a valuable resource for another. Photo: EUobserver EUobserver Magazine 2015 ––––– 27

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