Port of Call
Renewables in Scandinavia (Reykjavik, Copenhagen and Gothenburg), Jun 20, 2016
Hellisheii Power Plant near Reykjavik (Iceland)
One of the highlights of the 91st voyage for many participants was the chance to learn about renewable energy in the Nordic countries. The urgent need to move away from fossil fuels in order to cut carbon emissions and try to limit the onset of climate change has made people turn to renewable energy. The Nuclear Disaster at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant highlighted the inherent dangers of nuclear power. Scandinavia has long had a reputation for progressive, forward thinking environmental policies and many have looked to these countries for answers to the energy problem. For many years, Peace Boat voyages visiting Scandinavia have organized study programmes to highlight local solutions in this part of the world to the global problem. Participants on Peace Boat's 91st Voyage visited one the largest geothermal power plants in the world, some of the most innovative eco-housing projects and the leading country in wind power during study programmes in Reykjavik (Iceland), Gothenburg (Sweden) and Copenhagen (Denmark).

Tomatoes grown in a greenhouse heated by the hot-springs of Huerageri park
Renewable power sources, mostly geothermal power and hydropower, account for more than 85% of the total energy and electricity consumption in Iceland, far higher than anywhere else in the world. Peace Boat passengers visited the geothermal energy exhibition at Hellisheii Power Plant, owned by ON Power. Due to the geological location of Iceland, over a rift of two continental plates, it is possible to harness geothermal energy for heating and production of electricity. The plant produces electricity and hot water, 303 megawatt electrical (MWe) and 400 megawatt thermal (MWth). About 90% of all houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy and the heat is also used to melt the snow on the pavements of the capital Reykjavik, and to warm swimming pools, fish farms and greenhouses. Reykjavik is a small capital, but the length of its district heating system spans more than 3,000 km, which is the same as the distance from Reykjavik to Milan.

The Blue Lagoon spa uses the water output of the Svatsengi geothermal power plant.
As participants learned, electricity in Reykjavik is cheaper than in other Nordic countries and the majority of the electricity is sold to industrial users, mainly aluminum smelters and producers of ferroalloy. Peace Boat participants were accompanied to the geothermal hot-spring park of Huerageri and could also enjoy a geothermically-cooked lunch and an afternoon at the Blue Lagoon spa which uses the water of a geothermal facility. The move from oil-based heating to geothermal heating saved Iceland an estimated total of US $8.2 billion in the last 30 years and lowered the release of CO2 emissions by 37%. Moreover, Iceland participates in international hydrogen fuel research and development programs. It was involved in projects like ECTOS (Ecological City TranspOrt System) and HyFLEET:CUTE to study the most efficient ways of using hydrogen powered buses.

Eco-certified houses in Sweden
Peace Boat participants in Sweden learned about innovative ecofriendly schemes at the ECO centrum exhibition. "One of the most interesting things is the toilet with urine separation. The urine is used to produce fertilizer," explains Ogawa Yui, a participant of the study programme. The tour also included a visit to the students' apartments that are part of the HSB Living Labo project at the Johanneberg Science Park. These are eco-certified residences with reduced CO2 emissions. They have several sensors to monitor energy consumption, test new materials and make the tenants participate in the project. Moreover, they operate a good recycling system and they were built with sustainable materials. Beyond the environmental factor, these residences have well-thought-out shared spaces (like kitchen, living room, laundry room) that are built to enhance the sense of community. The programme participants had the possibility to learn how the government implements eco-policies.

Highly insulated windows are essential for reducing energy consumption during Sweden's harsh winters
"Everything related to ecologically friendly practices is thought out, all the way down to the use of space. It is amazing to me that even the government is working actively to promote this. The Swedish people obviously think that the environment is very important, but aren't overwhelmed by the task at hand," said Ogawa Yui. In addition, renewable energy in Sweden accounts for more than 50% of the electricity produced in the country. Eurostat reported that Sweden had already exceeded the 2020 target of the European Directive six years ahead of the deadline. Since 2003, Sweden has introduced the "green electricity certificate" obligation for retail power suppliers. Participants onboard also had the opportunity to learn more about Sweden's sustainable policies through the lectures from guest educator, Lena Lindahl.

Participants visited a windmill in Provestenenfor, which produces renewable energy for 3,000 households in Copenhagen, as part of the project to make Copenhagen the first carbon-neutral capital in the world by 2025
The renewable sector in Denmark is also flourishing, especially because of the production of wind energy and wind turbines. Participants visited a windmill in Provestenenfor, which produces renewable energy for 3,000 households in Copenhagen, as part of the project to make Copenhagen the first carbon-neutral capital in the world by 2025. Shares were sold in one of the wind-turbines which is now owned by the citizens. "Denmark has one of the highest levels of wind power production (42% of Denmark's electricity comes from wind power). I was surprised to know that there are wind farms that are owned by private citizens. There were many fresh ideas that I cannot see in Japan, like the burning of trash to provide heat for home and recycling centres that reduce the amount of waste. Wind power in Japan is not very popular because of sound pollution, cost problems and the fact that it requires large areas of land. These days due to unusual weather across the world, we feel that environmental problems are more pressing and so I can feel that we can learn a lot by looking at the environmental efforts of Denmark," comments Yasumura Yuji, one of the programme participants.

Wind provided 42.1% of Denmark's total electricity consumption in 2015. In 2012 the Danish government adopted a plan to increase the share of electricity production from wind to 50% by 2020, and to 84% in 2035. To encourage investment in wind power, families were offered a tax exemption for generating their own electricity and so wind turbine cooperatives invested in community-owned wind turbines. On windy days, the wind power is sold or stored in Norwegian and Swedish hydroelectric systems, by pumping water into higher reservoirs. On calm days the power is reimported. Moreover, the power can be used to heat hot water in electric boilers of district heating plants, instead of fossil fuels. Estimates show that Denmark's oil reservoirs from the North Sea are diminishing and therefore the government aims to become fully independent of fossil fuels by 2050 ("Energy Strategy 2050"). Moreover, around Copenhagen, Peace Boat participants could also visit houses with energy saving windows in restedsvej/Danasvejto and a recycling station.

Peace Boat participants inspired by the use of renewable energy and energy saving methods in Scandinavia will go back to their countries with plenty of new ideas of sustainable and smart living.