SUSTAINABILITY Already as a teenager Lars Olesen became interested in renewable energy generation. Today the 47 year old Danish Vattenfall R&D employee’s household is self-sufficient when it comes to electricity and he often goes to work by velomobile.

Lars Olesen lives approximately 100 km from Vattenfall’s Kolding office in Denmark where he is normally stationed. Instead of driving to his workplace, Olesen either goes by his velomobile (a bicycle car) or bus to Skanderborg where he has to switch to a train and then a bus to get to Kolding.
“I’m bored when I drive and I got rid of my car a few years ago. By using public transportation in combination with my velomobile, I can work on the way to and from work.”

Over time
Olesen explains he tries to be very observant of the carbon footprints he leaves behind, and to avoid them if possible.
“Therefore I have changed my ways over time: I have a solar panel system on my rooftop. It is not very big (4 kW peak), but by having energy efficient appliances in my household and consequently changing to LED lights I have actually succeeded in being self-sufficient when it comes to electricity. I’m not a vegetarian, but I almost never eat meat anymore, and on the occasions where I eat meat, I only eat a little. I go for organic products if I can get them.”

Realised dream
The interest in a sustainable way of living arose when Lars Olesen was a teenager when he started thinking about a way to store renewable energy.
“At that time, a lot of focus was on high-temperature super-conductors and the potential to use them for electricity storage. That was one of the main reasons I chose to study physics. When I left university I worked for different companies for 12 years. However, I finally realised that I was not really enthusiastic when it came to the resulting products. So in 2008, I made the decision that I would work with renewable energy, and that’s what I have done ever since.” 

Different behaviour
The United Nations Climate Change Conference started on 30 November. Olesen says he is hopeful that an international agreement valid for all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be reached in Paris.
“There is a momentum of change that I haven’t seen before. But real change can only happen when people start to behave differently.”

Less stuff
Lars Olesen has developed a lifestyle where he refrains from buying a product if it does not fit his requirements.
“If I’m looking for a food product that I can’t get in an organic version, typically I won’t buy anything. Apart from that I try to minimise my consumption as much as I can. It is not really that hard, as I feel that a lot of time and energy is tied up in stuff. So the less stuff you have, the less you consume, the less you have to worry, the less you have to maintain. That frees up a lot of time and energy.”

“When I’m about to make a decision that potentially could affect our common future, I often ask myself the guiding question: ‘If everybody in the world did the same thing as I’m about to do, would it then be sustainable?’ If the answer to that question is no, then I try to avoid doing it. Otherwise, I would either be indifferent to our common future, or I would be insanely egoistic.”

See below what other Vattenfall employees do to live sustainabily.

What do you do to live sustainably and reduce your impact on climate change? 

Name Andy Causebrook
Age 52
Resides Hexham, England
Occupation UK Onshore Grid Manager, Hexham Office

“It’s about bringing sustainability into every little decision from where to go on holiday to how much water to put in the kettle but the most relevant one to my working life is that I have not flown to a single meeting or site visit in the UK through 3½ years of working with Vattenfall and many years working for myself before that. I travel mainly by foot and train and sometimes by bike including a 250-mile journey from Hexham to our UK Development meeting in 2014.”

Name Boudewijn Tjeertes
Age 37
Resides Wormerveer, the Netherlands
Occupation Asset Manager (Heat)/Business Developer (Wind)

“With ZonSamen (crowdfunded solar park on the roofs of Nuon buildings) we have been able to install about 1,300 PV panels; I am proud to be part of the team who realised this. About seven years ago I installed a solar boiler on the roof of my house. The business case for the reduction of gas consumption was better than that of electricity. Our home was built in 1894, and with insulation and the installation of HR glass we have reduced our heating bill even further. Using LED lighting is another way of reducing our carbon footprint.”

Name Carsten Marggraf
Age 49
Resides Hamburg, Germany
Occupation City Partnership Management, BA Heat in Hamburg

“Everyone can do their bit for sustainability. In my private life, I'm always mindful of my heat and electricity consumption, as well as how I choose to get around. In my work I can contribute knowledge of and expertise in wind turbines, solar plants and biogas plants throughout Germany. Moreover, I have shares in a self-developed wind turbine that produces 3.7 GWh per year. And I hope to grow the wind farm and improve its performance in the next three years up to 45 GWh.”

Name Ingrid Henriksson
Age 20
Resides Bispgården, Sweden
Occupation Technician, Operational Maintenance Midskog, BU Hydro

“I and my boyfriend buy organic food, we sort and recycle our household waste and use LED lights at home. I also try to think about what kind of clothes I buy. I commute 18 miles a day to work, I have a new diesel-fuelled car but I anyhow hope to be able to switch to a home base closer to home in the near future. My experience is that people are aware of climate change but many also feel that they as individuals can’t do enough to really matter.”

Name Johan Pettersson
Age 45
Resides Tångaberg, Sweden
Occupation Engineer, Ringhals nuclear power plant

"I try to buy locally produced food and grow a lot of my own vegetables and root vegetables. At home, it is standard for us to choose organic. The electricity which I use at home comes from nuclear power, which has very low emissions of substances that impact on the climate. The house is heated using a ground source heat pump and we only use low-energy bulbs at home. When travelling, I try to take the train where possible. An electric car is on my wish list."

Name Wim Pitstra
Age 46
Resides Oudkerk, the Netherlands
Occupation Senior Project Manager, BA Customer & Solutions

“In addition to my work at Nuon and as an enthusiastic realist I am actively involved in a local energy cooperative. With my knowledge and experience, I try to give substance to local initiatives, projects and investments that contribute to a sustainable energy supply in Trynwâlden in the province of Friesland. The special feature of our cooperation is that we do it for and together with local residents. By actively involving local businessmen in constructing energy neutral homes or installing solar panels, we promote the quality of life and stimulate local employment.”

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