Back in 2007, when the Sønderborg area made a collective commitment to contribute to reducing global CO2 emissions by achieving carbon neutrality in the region’s total energy consumption by 2029, few Danish municipalities had a plan for their climate efforts.
Today, all municipalities have one.
Therefore, it’s not what we do that draws people from around the world to the Sønderborg area for inspiration on their green transition; it’s how we do it.
Our recipe consists of three steps and is actually quite straightforward.
Three steps to green transition
We reduce energy demand by conserving energy and electrifying vehicles, heating systems, and other fossil fuel-consuming processes. The greenest – and the most cost-effective – energy is the energy we don’t use.
We establish an interconnected energy system where we recycle the energy already generated. The goal is for 40 percent of district heating in 2029 to be sourced from excess heat, including that generated by businesses.
Green Electricity Production
Our electricity consumption must be supplied by green sources.
This recipe isn’t just environmentally friendly; it’s also cost-effective. We can implement our green transition at roughly half the cost of what it would be without first prioritizing energy efficiency first.
Our vision is translated into actionable steps through the detailed Masterplan2029, which outlines our path to achieving carbon neutrality by 2029. We don’t reach “the zero” by chance but through a deliberate and dedicated effort, where we can observe and measure our progress. This is also how we can succeed in maintaining momentum in such an extensive and ambitious project spanning 22 years.
Below are the reduction targets for our five focus areas from 2020 to 2029. Not all of these goals will reach zero emissions. The Sønderborg area will not be completely carbon-free by 2029. However, the municipality will be carbon-neutral because we produce more biogas and green fuels than we consume. Consequently, we contribute to making the national energy system carbon-neutral, and the surplus energy thus has a positive impact on the carbon footprint.
Reduction target 2020 to 2029
28,000 to 0 tons
Replacing gas and oil heating with heat pumps, communal heating or district heating and reduced consumption due to changed behavior
133,000 to 106,000 tons
Switch to electric cars, green trucks and vans, streamlined driving practices, reducing overall travel, increased use of biofuels
56,000 to 6000 tons
Transitioning to natural gas, reduction plans and recycling surplus heat
129,000 to 0 tons
Sourcing all energy from green energy sources
From the very beginning, ProjectZero has been built on strong local engagement and collaboration, with dedicated individuals driving every success story. These individuals encompass residents who have embraced eco-friendly alternatives by transitioning from gas heating systems, entrepreneurs who have found and implemented ways to recycle their surplus heat, and the employees of various utility companies in the region, all united in their efforts to forge the most sustainable solutions for the future.
Additionally, it involves over 75 individuals who make up the Masterplan’s various working groups. They have spent the year contributing their expertise and innovative ideas, ensuring that the final strategy is well-rounded and comprehensive.
Every working group has a specific focus area; for instance, one may center on personal transportation. Within this group, participants include car dealers, representatives from the Danish Automobile Association (FDM), municipal experts, and members of the electric vehicle association. They collaborate to identify initiatives aimed at simplifying electric vehicle ownership in Sønderborg Municipality. The working group maintains its distinct objectives that contribute to the overarching transportation target.
At ProjectZero, we monitor the progress of these working groups. Every year, we compile all CO2 and energy reductions in our carbon footprint report, which provides an overview of the status of our focus areas. The targets for each area are evaluated and adjusted based on the results presented in the carbon footprint report.