Denmark : Bornholm


The Association of Danish Small Islands was founded in 1974 and has a secretariat based on the island of Stryno funded on an annual basis by the government. The Association is democratically run by representatives from 27 small islands with all year round populations ranging from 10 to 937 inhabitants - some 5,000 people in total. These islands have not got any local authority, but are parts of larger municipalities. However, their Association is very dynamic with an LEADER Local Action Group, Enterprise Development Centre, Food Network and Tourism Network. The Danish Forest and Nature Agency also provide substantial funding for projects on these smaller islands.

Amongst the larger Danish islands, Aero has one of the world's biggest solar power plants and an Ecology Association that promotes organic production. Lolland generates more renewable energy per capita than any other place in the world. Their Community Testing Facilities is Denmark's undisputed leader for the full scale testing and demonstration of environmentally friendly technologies. Nevertheless, Samso Kommune is arguably the first and most universally recognised Green Island in the world but as their pioneering work has been so well documented by the Samso Energy Academy, in reports and through countless articles - see insert, it is not our intention to dwell upon it as a separate case study. Instead, we are going to concentrate on Bornholm which is the largest 'non-bridged' island in Denmark, both in regard to area and population. It has an area of 587 km2 and a population of 43,000 inhabitants. Only 30 km long, the island sits in the Baltic Sea 90 km north of the Polish coast and 30 km south of Sweden. Bornholm is a member of the B7 Baltic Islands Network and very proactive in developing rural policies to meet the needs of a changing world.

Bornholm was one of the three last Danish municipalities not belonging to a county - the others being Copenhagen and Frederiksberg. On 1 January 2007, the municipality lost its shortlived (2003 until 2006) county privileges and became part of Region Hovedstaden (i.e. the Copenhagen Capital Region). The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is important during the summer. Strategically located in the Baltic Sea, Bornholm has been a bone of contention usually ruled by Denmark, but also by Lübeck and Sweden. The castle ruin Hammershus, on the northwestern tip of the island, is the largest fortress in northern Europe, testament to the importance of its location.

Renewable Energy & Eco Housing

Wind power provides a fifth of Denmark's electricity, most of it generated by giant wind farms built on land and in the country's coastal waters. Horns Rev 2 is now officially the world's largest offshore wind farm and is located in the North Sea 30 km off the coast of western Jutland. The 91 turbines, which have a total production capacity of 209 MW, will be able to supply power equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 200,000 households.

Like Samso has already achieved, Bornholm aims to become a 100% carbon-neutral island based on sustainable and renewable energy. This goal is formulated in a vision called Bright Green Island and their conviction that Bornholm has something to contribute to overcome the climate-related challenges facing the world today.

Around 60% of the island's electricity comes via a cable, which links Bornholm to the Nordic electricity supply network with 40% being produced locally. Ostkraft is the local power producer and distributor operating power plants, distribution grid, wind turbines and a biogas plant. Furthermore the company trades energy, produces district heating, erects and maintains streetlights and broadband. There are presently 35 wind turbines with a total generating capacity of 30 MW and 24% of energy used on Bornholm comes from wind turbines, which only covers 33% of power consumption. This can be compared with the rest of Denmark where the average is 20% but further work is being done to expand the wind farm at Kalby owned by Ostkraft. Other options to improve the Bornholm power system and security of supply are considered in this report.

Just outside the town of Aakirkeby, Ostkraft built Biokraft one of the most advanced biogas plants in the world. The plant generates energy from biomass, primarily animal manure and organic waste. The biomass is mixed in three reactors and generates biogas, after which it is converted into electricity and district heating for Bornholm consumers. The degassed slurry is transported back to farms as fertiliser. Biogas is a CO2-neutral fuel that reduces the need for fossil fuels. At the same time, it helps to reduce emissions of methane (a greenhouse gas) from on-farm slurry tanks. Using degassed slurry as fertiliser benefits both the farmer and the aquatic environment as the degassing process makes it easier for the plants to absorb the nitrogen, thus reducing the emission of nitrogen to waterways adjacent to the fields. Biokraft expects to generate 14,500 MWh of electricity in 2010 - enough to meet the electricity needs of 3,600 households for one year - and to generate 12,000 MWh of heat. The expected output of degassed slurry is 85,000 tonnes.

A company BioGasol is currently working on the BornBioFuel demonstration plant project. The plant will demonstrate BioGasol core technologies, individually as well as in a coherent process, for cellulosic bioethanol production. The technologies are developed at BioGasol in Ballerup, Denmark and the plant will be located in Aakirkeby on Bornholm. A wide array of biomass will be converted into ethanol, biogas and solid fuel. The integrated BornBioFuel plant is designed to demonstrate feedstock flexibility, which means the plant will be demonstrating conversion of agricultural residues such as wood chips, garden waste in addition to wheat & barley straw, energy crops and grass from road sides. The BioGasol process concept allows the plant to be energy self-sufficient. The heat and power in the plant can be integrated with an external energy system. Furthermore all process water is to be re-used in the plant, thus minimizing the waste as well as water consumption.

Bornholms Forsyning A/S, a municipal utility company, produces carbon-neutral district heating based on straw and woodchips. The utility supplies approximately 435 households with straw-fired heat, and a large, newly built woodchip plant will be commissioned in January 2010. The new plant is expected to supply heat to around 1,300 households, corresponding to a reduction in carbon emissions by about 5,700 tonnes a year. The plants are supplied with local fuels only: the straw by local farmers and the woodchips are chipped from sawmill surplus wood and surplus wood felled as part of ordinary forestry operations. In return, the farmers receive the operation's only residual product: ashes, used as fertiliser in the fields. There are also two privately owned straw-heating plants on the island generating heat for about 2,300 households - both of which will be enlarged in 2010.

Household heating has the potential to save enormous volumes of energy. Two Bornholm companies have developed different types of passive houses certified to German passive-energy standards. The 'Bright House'  is the result of collaboration involving several different players in Bornholm's construction sector. The intention of instigator Steenbergs tegnestue aps was to design a detached bungalow for the system-built-house market of maximum quality in terms of materials and architecture and to minimise the environmental impact. PHPP - the German certification standards for passive house construction - were the point of departure for developing and designing 'Bright House'. By optimising the use of passive heat from the sun and by using a geothermal heat pump system - combined with thicker layers of insulation and the use of energy-efficient windows - the amount of heat consumed by the house is dramatically reduced. This also reduces the house's dependence on an external heat supply. By adding on other sources of renewable energy, such as solar cells and solar panels, 'Bright House' has the potential to be self-sufficient with energy and even supply surplus energy to neighbours.

Future Fritidshuset is the smartest holiday home - and the only one of its kind - in Denmark. The house is certified to passive energy standards, self-sufficient in energy and designed with an emphasis on sustainable materials. Future Fritidshuset is intelligent and eco-friendly and generates its own electricity and heat. The house is heated by solar heat supplemented by a heat pump which heats the house through a self-regulating underfloor heating system and provides ventilation and hot water for domestic use. 90% of the heat is reused via a heat-recovery system that also ensures optimum air ventilation. The house is equipped with IHC and a BlueSecure system allowing lighting, anti-theft protection, and smoke, gas and water alarms to be controlled using a mobile phone. The exterior of the house is clad with black slate and is completely maintenance free. It is built using wood, granite and other materials originating on Bornholm. Future Fritidshuset is the result of a joint development effort involving a number of Bornholm companies and is designed for both the export market and the local market. In Bornholm, it will be built in a natural setting on the north coast with a view of the sea and the rocky coastline.

Waste Minimisation & Recycling

The Municipal Waste Removal System for Bornholm, Bofa manages the waste produced on Bornholm. Bofa comprises an incineration plant in Rønne, a recycling centre, six container sites and thirteen unmanned environmental stations placed around the island. Bofa is one of the waste treatment companies in Denmark with the highest reutilisation rate in their waste handling: 65% of all waste received at Bofa is sent to be recycled and 26% is incinerated, the latter of which generates almost C02-neutral heat for consumers in Rønne. The last 9% is deposited. The Danish government requires waste-handling companies to fulfil stipulated quotas by 2012, whereby at least 65% of waste must be recycled and a maximum of 29% must be incinerated. In 2010 Bofa opened a new waste and environmental information centre in an old water tower providing lectures and guided tours. The company is a member of Affald  that provides educational material for children and also RenoSam,  an association of waste management companies and municipalities in Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

Water Management & Security

Bornholms Forsyning A/S is also the municipal utility supplying water to about one-third of the island's inhabitants and to many businesses and institutions, and the utility manages the entire island's sewer system and wastewater. As in the rest of Denmark, the people of Bornholm can drink the water straight from the tap. The groundwater goes through a simple aeration process before being piped out to the consumers - it is not necessary to add any chemicals to the water. Wastewater is purified at several purification plants on the island. The purified water can be discharged into the natural environment with no detrimental impact. The purification process does not pollute, and the sludge left from the process is recycled as fertiliser on the island's fields. The processes of supplying water and managing wastewater require large amounts of energy, and Bornholms Forsyning A/S has set the goal of reducing their power consumption by 25% by no later than 2015.

Extensive Agriculture & Organic Food Production

Bornholm Agriculture is a professional organization that provides comprehensive advice and services to its 460 members as well as the opportunity for direct involvement in projects such as grazing regimes for natural grasslands. Agriculture has been an important industry on Bornholm but development has gone the same way as elsewhere in Europe with fewer and larger farms, increased mechanisation due in part to the younger generation leaving the island. At the same time, more and more importance has been attached in recent years to turning the raw ingredients into special Bornholm quality products, which you can see and taste at Gudhjem Mill or by following the Regional Culinary Heritage trail. For example, Bornholm Dairy Cooperatives has achieved great success with its cheeses with Danablu having won countless prestigious honours at both national and international competitions. Gourmet Bornholm is an association of local food producers that develop new business opportunities and networks and strengthen the common position of marketing and sales.


Bornholm is situated in the Baltic Sea, 37 km from the southern tip of Sweden and 135 km from Danish mainland. Getting there is easy. Two airlines Cimber and Wings of Bornholm provide 8-9 daily flights from Copenhagen on weekdays, and the flying time is 30 minutes to Ronne airport. The Bornholm Express and Bornholmstrafikken have frequent ferry services to Copenhagen, Sweden, Germany and Poland which all connect with an excellent public transport system operated by BAT that aims to have all their buses running on bioethanol by 2014.

Electric vehicles (EVs) provide a unique opportunity to reduce carbon emissions from the transport sector: they do not require internal combustion fuels and are very energy efficient. EVs can also play a major role in operating an electricity system with a high penetration of renewable energy. Østkraft, the local power utility, is participating in a multimillion European project that will use electric car batteries to store excess energy and feed electricity back into the grid when the weather is calm. The concept, known as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) is widely cited among greens as a key step towards a low-carbon future, but has never been demonstrated on this scale before. The project's testing and demonstration phases will take place in Bornholm

Currently 20% of the island's electricity comes from wind, even though it has enough turbines installed to meet 40% of its needs. The reason it cannot use the entire capacity is the intermittency of the wind: many turbines are needed to harness sufficient power in breezes, but when gales blow the grid would overload, so some turbines are disconnected. So the aim of the Electric vehicles in a Distributed and Integrated market using Sustainable energy and Open Networks (EDISON) project is to use V2G to allow more turbines to be built and provide up to 50% of the island's supply without making the grid crash. Each electric vehicle will have battery capacity reserved to store wind power for the island rather than for traveling. When the cars are plugged in and charging their batteries, they will absorb any additional load the grid cannot cope with and then feed it back to power homes when needed. The system will act like a buffer and requires the development of smart grid software by IBM.

In July 2010 five electric micro cars developed by EuAuto Technology in Hong Kong and designed by the Italian Giorgetto Giugiaro arrived on Bornholm to be test driven by residents and visitors. The results have been so positive there is even talk of establishing an assembly plant on the island for a new version of MyCar to be produced by US Greentech Automative that has since taken over EuAuto, and using Bornholm as a platform to sell the environmentally friendly car throughout Denmark and then Europe.

Sustainable Tourism & Niche Marketing

Legend has it Bornholm was created by selecting Scandinavia's most beautiful landscapes and gathering them in one place. This 587 sq km island is the most densely forested of the nation's counties and is among its best-loved holiday retreats attracting more than 600,000 tourists every year. Bornholm has more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in Denmark, and the island climate means the summers start earlier and last longer - yet another reason why the island is widely known as the Gem of the Baltic. Its picturesque scenery, including dramatic coastal vistas and rich farmland as well as peaceful and serene woodland, is criss-crossed with bicycle routes, walking tracks, coastal paths and equestrian trails. On the island's southern shore there are extensive sandy beaches and to the north, the coastline becomes more rugged with some dramatic rock formations.

All along this coast lie Bornholm's many small communities - small fishing villages and coastal towns that slumber peacefully for most of the year, only to come alive with festivities during the summer months. In addition to the local harbour and summer fêtes, a variety of establishments around the island offer live music, including jazz, rock, pop, and other entertainments as well as traditional church concerts. The numerous beautiful old churches of Bornholm are themselves of great interest, and along with smoked herring and the Hammershus castle ruins Bornholm's "four round" churches are an integral part of the island's image.

The natural diversity and the beautiful towns and buildings of Bornholm have been inspiring artists for even longer. For more than 150 years the island's extraordinary light has captivated the painterly eye. The island's Art Museum exhibits work from many local artists. Bornholm has the highest density of art-craft workers in the whole of Denmark with both a local association and centre that exhibits ceramics, glassware, textiles, wood and metal wares. The Bornholm Folk High School offer various art and music courses during the winter.

Other major visitor attractions are Bornholm Museum, Bornholm's Medieval Centre and the NaturBornholm, experience centre. Among the diverse activities offered on the island, fishing and golfing have become particularly popular. Holiday accommodation suited to every taste and wallet, from camp sites, youth hostels, and bed & breakfasts to hotels, holiday villages, and holiday cottages are available. The Bornholm Visitor Centre has extensive information on its website as does Destination Bornholm, an umbrella organisation for tourist enterprises throughout the island that is responsible for policy work, leaflet publication and much more. The Centre for Regional and Tourism Research is a research-based consultancy firm located in Nexo that amongst other things helped coordinate the overarching tourism strategy for Bornholm. Denmark as a whole has a very active policy of promoting sustainable holidays and green travel.

Biodiversity & Protected Areas

The Forest and Nature Agency  is part of the Ministry of Environment with responsibility for biodiversity issues and Natura 2000, which is the common name of two EU directives, known as the Habitat and Birds Directive. There are 9 or 10 Natura 2000 plans covering Bornholm with a total area of approximately 4,020 ha. In 2009  this Agency launched a website Discover the Nature of Bornholm  as a guide to the island’s natural and cultural landscapes.  It is also directly involved with the Skovbi project on Bornholm to raise interest in protecting the Nordic honeybees, which had previously been a natural part of forest ecosystems and with a pilot study to reintroduce a herd of grazing European bison to increase the biodiversity of Almindingen. 

Almindingen, one of Denmark's largest forest areas, is situated in central Bornholm and together with Rø Plantage to the north protected under Natura 2000. Almindingen actually means "The Common", and this is what the area was in the past, when ordinary people used it for grazing their cattle, and the aristocracy used it for hunting. Previously to this, however, it was covered with forest, which gradually disappeared as wood was used for fuel and building ships and houses. At length, the large herds of deer and the cattle gradually turned the area into bare heath land.

Around the turn of the 18th century it was decided to restore the forest once again. Fences and stone dykes were put up to keep the cattle out, and trees were planted, so that 50 years later forest once again covered Almindingen, with only patches of heath still remaining. The forest is now exploited commercially, but some sections are left as 'untouched' woodland and grazing pastures. Management plans, which include making use of older styles of management, have been introduced to improve the various habitats for flora and fauna. Although commercial forestry is carried out in Almindingen, the area is popular for recreation, due to its various cultural relics and natural beauty spots.

The woods of Bornholm have for many years been famous in Danish birding circles, as they have been the only locality in Denmark housing breeding Tengmalm's Owl (although other localities on mainland Denmark have just been discovered). They were also one of the first regions to be populated by breeding Black Woodpecker. These two species are still present, and breeding Nightjar and Honey Buzzard can also be found, beside a wealth of the more common woodland birds. The bogs and reedbeds offer shelter for Marsh Harrier and Crane, and Red-backed Shrike can be spotted in the clearings. Altogether, 210 bird species have been recorded in this locality and DOF-Bornholm, local branch of the Danish Ornithological Society, works to protect birds species and their habitats throughout the island.

Bornholm has a large population of Roe Deer, which were reintroduced to the island in 1885, after having been exterminated 200 years previously. There are no foxes on the island (they died out during a rabies epidemic). Apart from the odd escaped mink there are no martens either on the island, nor any moles or voles.

Christiansø is the largest of a group of islands called Ertholmene that are situated approximately 18 km north-east of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. It is especially famous as an outstanding migration spot. There is a small field station in the middle of the island, open from spring to autumn, where the migration is monitored and some ringing is carried out in autumn. It is also used as a base for carrying out various scientific projects, generally centered on Eider (which appear to be declining, their numbers on Ertholmene having been nearly halved the last ten years) and Razorbill (which, on the contrary, are thriving: their numbers having increased from 200 breeding pairs in 1983 to 965 pairs in 2006).

Integrated Development Planning

Bornholm has the goal of becoming a sustainable, carbon-neutral island that is fully self-sufficient with renewable energy. The Regional Municipality adopted an Energy Strategy in 2008 to map out how the Bornholm community can completely phase out its use of fossil fuels. Today roughly 25% of Bornholm's energy supply comes from renewable sources. The Danish Government's target is 30% renewable energy by 2025. Bornholm's Energy Strategy also aims to ensure that Bornholm will be the first region in the EU to achieve EU's "thrice twenty" targets: lower emissions of greenhouse gases by 20%, reduce energy consumption by 20% and increase the use of renewable energy to 20%, by 2020.

The strategy's strength is its dynamism and the fact that it can be revised as new technology gradually becomes available. The strategy was developed on the basis of an energy planning tool developed by Plan-Energi together with the University of Aalborg, and tested on Bornholm and a number of other European islands in a project called Transplan (Transparent Energy Planning and Implementation). The planning tool charts the community's energy usage and energy balance and calculates specific consequences of various changes in the energy supply, implementation of new sources of energy, etc.

If a society has to undergo radical changes, all levels of society must take part - from citizens to authorities - and, significantly, the change must be economically viable. For this reason, Bornholm's Growth Forum supplemented the Energy Strategy in 2009 with an overarching strategy "Implementation of More Green Energy", which maps out how this can be achieved. This strategy is structured around three main priority areas: citizen-targeted activities (Bright Green Citizen), activities targeting the trades and industries (Bright Green Industry) and knowledge activities (Bright Green Engineering).

As there is great potential for green growth and export of Danish energy technology, the strategy gives a high priority to Bornholm's unique potential as an energy laboratory and as a destination for energy visits, both of which will in turn generate growth and more jobs. This must occur through R&D collaboration between companies and knowledge institutions, and the establishment of a business cluster comprising Bornholm's central energy stakeholders.

A combined branding strategy was developed in 2008 and is closely linked to Bornholm's Regional Development Plan. Together they form an essential platform and framework of actions for the island. By no later than 2014, Bornholm should have established a name for itself in the world as Bright Green Island and be strongly positioned in the debate on climate change and energy sources.

In order for a community to become 100% green and sustainable, it is crucial to include its citizens in the process and to get children and young people involved by raising awareness of the problems relating to climate change. This is given high priority on Bornholm by initiatives such as: information campaigns; competitions; energy-efficiency projects at user level; prize-winning climate role-playing for schoolchildren; the Natur-Bornholm Visitor's Centre; a forthcoming energy training programme for tradesmen; and a showroom and info centre bringing together all energy-related consultancy.

Bornholm is unique in that a wide variety of landscapes are found within a small area. Affection for the island and its natural splendour is a central factor in the efforts of the Bornholmers to create a clean, green community. Sustainability is a top priority and in July 2009, Bornholm became the first Fair Trade island in Scandinavia. Through the Business Center Bornholm, social action and other customised green tours can be arranged to meet local enthusiasts e.g. craftspeople who have created a sustainable new series of "Bright Green Island Designs"; an organic farmer with a solar-powered electric fence and geothermal heating; a ceramicist whose pottery production is sustainable - or go for a hike through the countryside in the unique surroundings to recharge your own batteries.

Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Measures

The Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy was established in 2007 as part of their government's increased efforts to promote a greener and more sustainable society. These efforts include a governmental goal that Denmark one day becomes independent of fossil fuels. The country has already experienced the effects of climate change with extremely heavy rain having resulted in the flooding of roads and both public and private basements. It is now seen as crucial to take climate change into consideration when, for example, planning new roads, bridges and dykes. As part of the government's strategy, a portal for climate change adaptation has been set up where you can find useful information to inspire and motivate private citizens, municipalities and companies alike to join in a concerted effort. The portal also includes access to knowledge about future climate and the areas of vulnerability, consequences and possible courses of action in 12 key sectors of society. The Climate Consortium Denmark  has also produced the EnergyMap  portal for energy and climate related solutions.

The Danish Coastal Directorate Authority - a division of the Ministry of Transport - is the state authority responsible for the construction and maintenance of coastal protection on the west coast of Jutland that is constantly affected by the waves and currents of the North Sea. Other responsibilities include harbour operation, dredging and storm surge alerts for the west coast of Jutland and the tidal flats. The Skagen Innovation Center (SIC) is a regional development center based in the city of Skagen, located at the top of Jutland. Since July 1993, SIC has performed research in the area of environmentally friendly coastal protection methods, based on coastal drainage systems. The tool for this shore erosion control system is called Pressure Equalizing Modules (PEM) and SIC filed a patent application on this method in 1997 and is currently monitoring two large-scale research projects on the west coast of Jutland. During this research, SIC has identified a formerly unknown effect based on filter tubes placed in a matrix inside the coast profile. The effect was first demonstrated on the Skagen coastline, where the beach was significantly increased after installing the filter modules. The same method has now been demonstrated in a number of different coastal locations around the world, and the positive results on the beach profile have been consistent. In the US, EcoShore International has been using PEM technology and their first installation took place on the Atlantic coast town of Hillsboro Beach, 25 miles north of Miami. After 18 months the long-term trend of erosion had been reversed, the PEM area had added 25,000 cubic yards extra sand, and the system met all the goals set. As such, it would be good to see this benign and economical Danish solution tried out on some small islands whose coastlines are about to disappear into the ocean because of climate change.