Denmark’s reduction of water and energy consumption seen as model for U.S.
Jes Munk Hansen, president of Grundfos North America, recently joined Pia Olsen Dyhr, Danish minister for trade and investment, at a congressional forum in Washington, D.C., to discuss how Grundfos’ home country, Denmark, is meeting the economic, environmental and energy challenges of the coming decades and how the United States can apply these lessons.
“We need to shift to energy efficiency and independence,” said Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who presented opening remarks at the event. “Denmark is way ahead of the United States in this quest.”
The May 25 congressional forum, “The Nexus between Water, Energy and Climate: Shaping Long Term Policy to Create Jobs and Business Success for a Resource Efficient Economy,” was sponsored by The Royal Danish Embassy and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI). Minister Dyhr was the keynote speaker and made the case for long-term, stable investment as the gateway to job creation and economic growth.
Thanks to a long-term investment in energy efficiency that began during the 1970 energy crisis, Denmark moved from complete foreign energy dependence to the most energy independent nation in the European Union. Minister Dyhr said Danish companies like Grundfos, the world’s largest pump manufacturer, gained a global advantage by embracing Denmark’s energy-efficient and resource-conservation public policies.
Indeed, Grundfos has already developed technologies that can help solve the global energy and water crisis. Hansen explained how Grundfos’ AUTOADAPT software ensures that pump systems run only when needed, thereby halving the amount of electricity consumed by traditional pumps that operate at a constant rate.
“We take relatively mundane products and lift them into the new millennium,” said Hansen, who explained that because pumps are normally not visible to the public, few people realize the environmental and economic potential of replacing inefficient pumps.
Municipalities, too, have the potential to save energy and water through increased efficiency. Ensuring that the water infrastructure is pressurized to only the necessary degree dramatically reduces leaks, which in turn saves energy.
“The U.S. cannot afford the trillions of dollars it would cost to replace the infrastructure,” Hansen said. “What we need is to make the infrastructure smarter. All it takes is existing technology and a willingness to implement.”
But Hansen made it clear that Grundfos could not solve the water and energy challenges on its own. He presented the audience with a call to action—a labeling system to increase awareness of the energy savings possible through efficient technology. Such an initiative would enable the following:
- -Consumers would be able to make informed choices;
- -Industry would be incentivized to innovate in order to meet higher standards; and
- -The environment would again benefit from more efficient use of natural resources.
“A labeling system would lift the entire industry to new heights,” Hansen said. “Our elected officials must set ambitious energy goals. Producing energy is one of the biggest consumers of energy. At the same time, moving water accounts for up to 20% of electricity use. We need to address this nexus now in order to ensure a positive and prosperous future.”