Visiting Tvind and Folkecenter
In order to get more knowledge about Renewable Energies and the practical skills linked to it, our team made a roadtrip to Tvindkraft (a large windmill in the North West region of Denmark) and the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy. 5 days, 5 people, 300 km. The first challenge on this little trip started with our car wheel being flung off the car and left on the highway. I was driving and my reaction was simply repeating the name of God several times while controlling the car and try to stop it. One team mate was asleep, another was trying to keep me calm and the other…well he was just being himself, no stress and chilled out. Now it’s funny actually. Not the fact that the wheel just flew by but to think about our different personalities and reactions when confronted with this small accident.
Anyway, we made it to Tvindkraft. Allan and Britta, the leadership who run the windmill are the cutest and nicest people, and they received us with a warm smile. The Tvind windmill is something that you can never imagine is that big before you actually get there, especially inside of it and the view from the top. That view is something really amazing, a little bit scary but that’s why is so wonderful as well. Allan, one of the guys responsible for the windmill started to show and tell us about each element inside of the windmill… the generator directly responsible for converting wind energy into electricity but of course this couldn’t be possible without all the other elements. Besides all the technical parts that we actually take part in doing… like replacing some convertors that transformed DC into AC, it was really interesting to learn more about the history behind the windmill. To know that when people get together everything is possible. Even though there was a lot of challenges, the people at that time made it work. Volunteers started to build the windmill in 1975 and only after 3 years the windmill was put into work. They did something that no one else had done before!! Isn’t it amazing? Humanity, respect and common goals. That would be a great lesson to teach our governments.
We were able to discuss about our current world problems related to the climate with Britta. It’s always nice to share ideas or points of view and talk with people that actually show us that there is some good in the world and a lot of people are in the same movement with us, fighting global warming.
After two days in Tvind, we went back on the road. The Nordic Folkecenter is a place full of good people, good food and good sources of energy. It started around 1983 – after the Tvind windmill was built but also because Denmark was facing an oil crisis and something had to be done for their sake as well as the environment. So, the Nordic Folkecenter was created but with a different purpose than Tvindkraft. In this renewable energy center people can be trained and learn more about this kind of energy. Also, they do a lot of testing and experiments in order to share their knowledge and develop it around the world. Their work is based in this three concepts: Training, Research and Testing and Sharing. All of their electricity comes from the windmills or solar panels but mainly windmills…it’s Denmark.
One place that impressed me a lot was the Biodome. There, you could find around 300 different species of plants, fruits and vegetables. They had it all. The way it was constructed it’s incredible as well. This beautiful and unique greenhouse has the shape of a sphere and the frame is made of aluminium covered with triple wall polycarbonate glazing. All of this has the simple purpose of taking the most of the energy from the sun in all its positions.
There are also ponds that soak up solar energy during the day and release heat at night to balance the temperature and extend the growing season. We can find some fish that eat the roots of this small plants,where both are working in a symbioses relation.
We were given presentations about how the organization started and why. They have partnerships and make projects in regions of Africa, mainly in Uganda and Mali. Solar panels are an amazing method to use energy that the sun is giving to us all the time and it’s one of the things they’ve been working on together with another organizations in countries of Africa where they also want to implement LED lights. In many c0ountries in Africa, there are still a lot of people who light up their homes with kerosene lamps or candles and having electricity is something that will change their lives in many ways – not only at home but also in school where children will be able to have better education and conditions.
We now have a lot of problems in our world related to the climate. Visiting these places showed us that people are very worried about what’s happening and about what they can study, learn and do in order to solve them. Having local changes can actually create an impact all over the world. It gave us hope and good energy knowing we can never be alone in this.
By Vanessa from Portugal