Follow Danish Energy Agency

The Danish Energy Agency and City of Pittsburgh announce agreement to collaborate on district energy planning

News   •   Mar 21, 2018 07:36 CET

The new endeavor will create a sustainable energy “roadmap” for the City of Pittsburgh.

The Danish Energy Agency is part of a new working group announced today that seeks to create an energy renaissance for Pittsburgh in the 21st century, and will collaborate to demonstrate how next generation energy infrastructures can better contribute to the urban revival that the City of Pittsburgh is experiencing today.

The Danish Energy Agency and the University of Pittsburgh are joining forces to collaborate on designing and demonstrating smart energy systems in the City of Pittsburgh. The partnership will focus on:

  • Energy planning for renewables (e.g., wind, solar, thermal, biomass)
  • District heating planning and microgrid feasibility assessments
  • Socioeconomic (community net benefit) analysis of district energy projects
  • Energy infrastructure investments
  • Policy and regulatory structures for district-scale energy approaches

Denmark is globally recognized for its energy leadership, whose objectives include creating security of energy supply, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and whilst furthering economic development. Denmarks leadership will be showcased this coming May, when the country hosts the Clean Energy Ministerial, the global forum on clean energy technologies and energy investment in collaboration with 24 other nations. Pittsburgh is one of the cities that Denmark chooses to collaborate with in the United States, and will join the DEA in celebrating and discussing energy and innovation.

The Danish ambassador to the US, Lars Gert Lose, is optimistic about the possible outcomes of the cooperation.

“Denmark is proud to work with an American city undergoing such rapid change. I hope this cooperation can help Pittsburgh replicate the clean energy initiatives we have established in Denmark, and create economic growth that supports sustainability and resiliency.”

In its agreement with the University of Pittsburgh, the Danish Energy Agency will develop workshops for regional entities from the public and private sectors, as well as a familiarization tour for stakeholders to experience successful energy initiatives in Denmark. These on-the-ground events will also provide Pittsburgh participants with a better understanding of the role utilities can provide and the behavioral changes needed to support a more sustainable energy future.

“Large-scale energy projects are logistically challenging for American cities like Pittsburgh, which unlike peer cities and countries in Europe, lack an overarching environmental- or energy-specific entity that both regulates and finances such ventures,” explained Rebecca Bagley, Vice Chancellor for Economic Partnerships at Pitt. “But in partnership with the Danish Energy Agency (DEA), we can develop a roadmap toward next-generation energy leadership and infrastructure priorities for Pittsburgh to benefit residents, businesses, government entities and utilities.”

The University will provide faculty expertise through its Center for Energy, housed in the Swanson School of Engineering, and the Energy Grid Research and Infrastructure Development (GRID) Institute. “This melding of international expertise across diverse energy sectors will help to advance a new “smart cities” concept for Pittsburgh, one based in philosophical experience yet backed up by hard data,” noted Gregory Reed, director of the Center for Energy and the Energy GRID Institute. “In the end, we hope that this endeavor will not only benefit Pittsburgh’s energy renaissance, but provide a baseline for other American cities to follow.”

“Like our past city renaissances, Pittsburgh has benefited tremendously from strong public-private partnerships that can see past the red tape and politics to develop transformative change,” noted Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

“Pittsburgh already has a head start with the creation of the District Energy Initiative to address Pittsburgh’s challenge of creating 21st century energy systems,” the Mayor added. “But now by collaborating with Denmark, we can combine their international success with our own domestic expertise and establish more sustainable energy policies that help reduce our carbon footprint, and at the same time, increase the affordability and accessibility of our energy supplies here in Pittsburgh. Together we will show combining energy and environmental planning can provide a win-win for the economy.”

To engage the next generation of energy leaders, the University will also recruit students from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Katz School of Business and Swanson School of Engineering to work with both Dr. Katrina Kelly-Pitou of the Center for Energy and Bo Riisgaard Pedersen of the Ministry of Energy, Utilities, and Climate Change. Their final project will include developing a white paper that outlines the findings of the partnership.


Special Advisor, Bo Riisgaard Pedersen, +45 41 15 11 36,

Facts about Pittsburgh

  • The city of Pittsburgh plans to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, including wind and solar, by 2035 and is the first post-industrial city in the United States aiming to power itself with 100 percent clean energy.
  • Pittsburgh also has ambitious GHG targets and plan to reduce emissions by 20 percent in 2023 (baseline year 2003), 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.
  • City of Pittsburgh has a population of about 300,000 and has yearly GHG emissions of more than 6.6 million tons CO2-eq.
  • Much of Pittsburgh’s energy, water and transport infrastructure was built 50-100 years ago and is currently in need of substantial repair or replacement. American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the state of Pennsylvania requires at least $80 billion in total reinvestment, a sum split primarily between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
  • Pittsburgh is known as both "the Steel City" for its more than 300 steel-related businesses, and as the "City of Bridges" for its 446 bridges.
  • In the 1970-80’s, the city suffered from the decline of the US steel industry. However, partly due to the presence of local wealthy foundations, Pittsburgh has managed to retain many of its cultural and educational institutions, around which new, positive, trends are now building and today companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Uber are among the many technology firms located in Pittsburgh.
  • The area is home to 68 colleges and universities, including research and development leaders Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh and the region is considered a hub for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, sustainable energy, and energy extraction. Historically, this includes innovative techniques for exploration of coal, oil, and natural gas as well as the creation of the modern electric AC grid by George Westinghouse.