Copenhagen: Carbon Neutral by 2050?

Copenhagen is no stranger to the cleantech industry; some may even call it ground zero for renewable energy innovation.

Denmark’s capital ranks among the most environmentally-friendlycities on earth, sporting an inner harbor clean enough to swim and fishin, its residents world leaders in bicycle transportation and organicfood consumption.

Copenhagen is currently striving to become the world’s first carbon neutral city, with an ultimate goal of being completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050.

"Denmark has been focusing on becoming energy independent for a long, long time — since the 1970’s," said Simon Dreyer, head of cleantechnetworks for Copenhagen Capacity. "It’s been a roller-coaster ride, but it’s exciting to see how much it has developed since then."

Copenhagen Capacity is a member of the Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster(CCC), a consortium of energy companies, research institutions, andgovernmental and non-governmental organizations helping to push theambitious goal forward. 

The cluster pulls together all of the relevant players, allowing a cooperative, streamlined approach to cleantech projects.

Their stated mission is to "createcontinuous growth for existing cleantech companies, to support andassist new cleantech companies, and to attract more foreign cleantechcompanies to the Capital Region."

In order to accomplish that, they have set up several goals as part of their five-year plan:

  • Creation of 1,000 new jobs

  • Attraction of 25 foreign companies to the cluster

  • Creation of 30 new research- andinnovation collaborations between companies and research institutions,for example start-ups or joint research applications/projects

  • Establishment of collaborations with 15 international cleantech clusters

  • Creation of a unifying and self-supporting organization with a minimum of 200 members

  • Securing the growth and momentum of 25 entrepreneurs

CCC currently has 27 partners, including investment agencies likeCopenhagen Capacity, renewable energy companies like Vestas wind power,and research organizations like the University of Copenhagen.

The organization’s efforts are focused on five main areas:facilitation, matchmaking, innovation and entrepreneurship, testing anddemonstration, and international outreach.


Each cluster partner is given access to the cluster’s extensiveknowledge center, which is constantly updated with the most recentcleantech studies, legislation and funding programs – what they calltheir “one stop shop” for cleantech research.

This allows cluster partners to effectively gain insight into anyareas that pertain to their overall goal, whether it be in research,financing or policy.


The CCC acts to create partnerships between cleantech sectors,effectively bridging the gap between cleantech companies and theresearch required to make projects a reality.

They do this in two different ways: business-to-business and research-to-business.

Cleantech companies that are involved in business-to-businessnetworks can benefit from "spillover effects" like knowledge sharing,the use of research and access to a highly-skilled labor force.

The CCC’s research-to-business matchmaking has spawned a partnershipwith the University of Copenhagen, matching researchers to cleantechstart-up companies. Whether cleantech companies are looking for afull-time research partner for a fresh new project, or a research groupto expand upon existing technologies, the research-to-businessmatchmaking seeks to bridge the gap between companies and researchinstitutes.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

CCC seeks to foster innovation and push those innovations into the market as quickly as possible. Members may use the cluster’s Cleantech Accelerator program to help identify customer value and provide businesses with a contact person to put the plans into action.

The cluster also seeks to overcome the gap between research andcommerce, the so-called "valley of death" that stops so many promisingresearch projects from seeing the light of day.

The CCC identifies potentially groundbreaking projects, then forgesthe appropriate partnerships in order to get the research into actionand close that gap.

Testing and Demonstration

One of the biggest perks of the CCC is the partnership with the Risø DTU National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, one of Europe’s leading sustainable energy laboratories.

The research done at Risø DTU can be displayed at the“Demonstratorium,” where companies can test and present newtechnologies. The Demonstratorium will focus on sustainable technologies like electric vehicles, energy storage, wind turbine components,bio-energy plants, solar cells and panels, and a number of other energysaving technologies.

The CCC is also been instrumental in the development of theCopenhagen Cleantech Park, an ambitious city development project. Thegoal is to host approximately 14,000 residents, 6,000 jobs and 6,000homes in a renewable, state-of-the-art "future city."

The joint project offers a number of opportunities for clustermembers. Not only does it allow for industry to develop technologies inthe Risø DTU and showcase them in the state of the art Demonstratorium,but it allows for actual deployment in a large urban setting. This takes cleantech from the labs to the showroom… and right into actualpractice.

”It’s all about critical mass and collaborations throughout thedevelopment and value chain. The National Laboratory, theDemonstratorium and the business park, all located at Risø and allinvolved in sustainable technologies, will arouse internationalattention and attract many relevant interested parties. It will be anexcellent show window to attract new partners and customers,” notes Henrik Bindsley, Risø’s acting director.

International Outreach

In 2009, the CCC created the International Cleantech Network (ICN) in order to create knowledge sharing on an international level. The INCcurrently has partnerships with clusters in the United States, Spain,Austria, Italy, Norway, and Singapore.

Not only does this export Copenhagen’s unique cleantech community;but it also attracts international companies and investors to Denmark.It’s exactly the kind of flexibility and cooperation provided by theCopenhagen Cleantech Cluster that has lured companies like Better Place, a Silicon Valley-based electric vehicle provider, to Denmark.

“Better Place is a good example of a new investor that we haveattracted to Denmark and that sees how Danes’ readiness to test out andadopt new products and technologies creates potential in the Danishmarket,” noted Ole Frijs Madsen, Director of Invest in Denmark.

And as Copenhagen speeds towards its goal for carbon neutrality, we’re betting that the CCC will attract plenty of new partners.

Be Well,

Jimmy Mengel

Co-op Leads the Way toward a Carbon Neutral City originally appeared in Green Chip Stocks. Green Chip Review is a free 2x-per-week newsletter, is the firstadvisory to focus exclusively on investments in alternative andrenewable energies.



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