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Danish mentoring program assisting development in the Shetland Islands

by Linda Bertelsen

A mentoring program (via virtual meetings) recently took on a different dimension when a Danish delegation met the district heating in real life in the Shetland Islands.

For two years, VEKS’ Deputy Director Morten Stobbe has acted as a mentor for the director Derek Leask for the Shetladsøerne district heating company in collaboration with Morten Duedahl, Business Development Manager from DBDH. The cooperation with the district heating company in the Shetland Islands came about via an article about DBDH’s mentor program in Hot & Cool magazine.

Finally, meeting our partners.

For a couple of years now, we have “met” once every two months for 2-3 hours, where we have advised, discussed, and helped to pass on practical experiences to the Shetland Islands’ district heating – at a distance. Therefore, it was inspiring to meet our partners finally, but also see the system and the facilities that we only knew via drawings, reports, etc., says Morten. – VEKS has been recommended for the mentor project, partly because we generally have a well-oiled district heating system. We are facing new technologies, but at the same time also have a distribution system under development, and therefore has practical experience from this. And last but not least, because we are good at organizing, and at the same time know the political decision-making processes, Morten states. VEKS has also been chosen as a mentor because we do not have commercial service sales in mind. And by the way, it is a non-profit company.

In addition to Morten and Morten, the delegation consisted of two employees from the Danish Embassy in London, Charlotte Owen, and Jacob Christensen. They know the British laws and support programs, which the Danish model otherwise inspires.

Zero carbon footprint

It was a complete program, which met the Danish delegation, which met leading politicians from the Shetland Islands Island Council – reminiscent of a county. Local politicians do not take independent initiative in planning. – Many ideas for a greener energy supply come from – the otherwise well-run – district heating company, which a trust fund owns. We have collaborated with the director through our mentoring program. Still, now we also had the opportunity to discuss the future with the chairman of the trust fund board, where the big question is: What does it take to achieve the goal of zero carbon footprint?

The delegation had bilateral talks with all parties to get an overview of goals and direction and a common understanding.

The stakeholders are, among other things, a locally municipally owned waste heat plant that produces all the district heating. On the other hand, the surplus heat from the local power plant has never been utilized. A private energy company owns the power plant, whose electricity production will soon be replaced by electricity from a massive wind farm, which is currently being built on one of the Shetland Islands. The park will be completed by 2025 at the latest and will, in addition to covering the limited local needs, also supply the mainland via newly laid-off sea cables.

Translated from the VEKS website.