Denmark takes the top position on the EU28 Eco-Innovation Scoreboard for 2015: This an improvement in ranking compared to previous years which already showed good performance with a second position in 2014 and fourth position in 2013 and never ranked lower than fourth since 2010. In terms of eco-innovation output, compared to 2013 Denmark slides down the ranking from first place to fourth in the Scoreboard, while on the other hand Denmark moves up from a fourth place to the first spot in terms of eco-innovation input, which is also Denmark’s best performing indices. The country does not manage to translate the high eco-innovation output into a higher socio-economic output, where it is below EU average.

Denmark has been promoting eco-innovation since 2006, when thr Danish Parliament requested the Danish Government to launch the first eco-innovation scheme, underpinned by a comprehensive policy framework in support of activities and initiatives in favour of the environment and combating climate change. After the Danish Local Government Reform in 2007 created five completely new regions in Denmark, green growth initiatives got off due to the synergy effects that the reform offered. Industrial symbiosis and public procurement are two areas that seem particularly to have benefitted from this. However, the new Danish Government (June 2015) has taken a more market oriented approach to green transition with the view that enterprises will implement green business models without the need of comprehensive state support, hence some drastic cuts have been proposed and taken place that will affect circular economy developments. In view of this, the latest Scoreboard results are a result of the work of previous governments and it needs to be seen how the latest policy developments will affect Denmark’s result in the future.

2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Denmark




ET Carwash

Denmark_GPE_ETCarWashEnvoThermThe ET Carwash concept offers a car wash facility that can operate as a closed loop structure, with no discharges to the public sewage system, and a consumption of less than 4 litres of water/car wash. The only water that leaves the system is the drip-off from cars departing the facility. The loss of water is so minimal that it can be compensated by adding rain water and thereby achieving a water consumption of zero. The energy consumption is below 7 Kwh/m3 of wash water. The applied technology is MVR evaporation in combination with aerobic biodegradation. The residue is 1% of the wash water, which is dried with support from solar panels and sent for external treatment (200 kg/year).

Envotherm A / S were founded in October 2006, with focus on cleaning of wastewater. In 2007 the first plant was sold to a German sewage collector, a facility that purifies 2500 litres of water/hour. The system had a payback period of 6 months. However, the company noticed a segment in the market for smaller plants, and in 2008 Envotherm had developed a product range from 350 - 1000 litres/hour.

It leads to a number of contracts for smaller systems, for instance, a treatment facility for a company in the surface treatment business; a facility for Danish Oil Recycling, a petroleum refinery; for Karup Airbase (helicopter wash) and a district heating plant (wood fired), who both suffered from Cadmium pollution in their sewage water; and in 2010, a plant for another refinery, Doll Bergen in Hannover. Systems have also been delivered to refineries in Germany and to a producer of fertilizer in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In 2010, Envotherm became aware of a need to reuse water from car washes and developed a car wash plant. The first system was tested for 8 months in Statoil (gasoline station), which led to an order for 10 car wash facilities ultimo 2011. Envotherm is fully in charge of the design and programming, as well as the installation, management, and final testing of the facilities. All spare parts are produced by Danish or German subcontractors. Up to 70% of the system service can be done through the Internet. The plant is equipped with a series of alarms that enables Envotherm to identify and solve the problem remotely.

Barriers and Drivers

Envotherm have experienced a number of challenges, such as municipalities that do not apply similar emission standards and environmental laws. In the case of Karup Airbase and the district heating facility, it was the enforcement by the local municipalities that caused the interest in Envotherms treatment facilities. However, when Envotherm contacted customers in the same market segment, but in different municipalities, they experienced that local companies either had a waiver or that environmental regulation was deficient. In such cases, the local companies could often get by with treatment technologies that partially solved the problems. This is not good enough for the environment, and for local businesses, it distorts competition. For Envotherm it reduces the potential number of buyers, so it becomes difficult to sell enough plants to an extent corresponding to the development costs. 

Envotherm’s greatest challenge has been financing. It is expensive to develop plants of this size, and it is a demanding process to deal with patenting, branding, and customer servicing. It is expensive to establish an effective organization and to build a solid base of suppliers and relevant stakeholders.  However, in Denmark a number of good initiatives have been established, which facilitate the export of this type of technology.  Envotherm have had good cooperation with the “Innvoation Fund”, the Ministry of Environment, and the Credit Fund for Exports in development of their products.  The latter can provide finances for potential clients, if they can demonstrate healthy accounts.

Economic Performance

The industrial facilities developed by Envotherm got a payback period between 6-24 months. In comparison, the life cycle of the plants, which are build in stainless steel is around 10-12 years. The ET Carwash facilities got a payback periond of about 3 years, if they reach an amount of 10-12.000 visitors/year.

Social Performance

The buyers of the ET Carwash facilities have experienced an increase in customers. Danish customers are interested in using greener solutions, especially if the prize can be kept at the same level as conventional car washes. The ET Carwash does not use salt water for the washing of the undercarriage, which extents the life time of the cars. At the same time, there are no lime spots after washing and drying, which needs to be wiped off, and there is no odour from the water.

Environmental Impact

The reduction in water usage can be reduced from 150 litres to  4 litres/car wash. The system also uses less soap, due to the appliance of distelled water. If the system collects between 50-100 m3 of rain water per year, the water consumption can be reduced to zero. The system does not discharge any heavy metails and other hazardous chemicals to public treatment facilities, and it limits the burden on the public sewage systems. Finally, the energy consumption is reduced to a minimal.

Further Information

For more information please visit the homepage of Envotherm A/S:

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