Just six months remain until the most important conference ever held on Danish soil takes place – the UN Climate Change Conference COP15 in Copenhagen, at which over 200 of the world's nations will seek to hammer out a binding greenhouse gas reduction treaty in a blaze of global publicity.
As a showcase for renewable energy technologies, COP15 gives Denmark in general, and Copenhagen in particular, the most influential promotional platform one could imagine: the city will be packed with government delegations, NGOs, lobbyists, pressure groups, and a massive army of global media, all hotly debating crucial climate and energy issues for two solid weeks.
One issue which is certain to be high on the agenda is mass transport, and the possibility that the electric car could bring about an inflection in the otherwise intractably increasing level of CO2 emissions that this sector generates.
Denmark is busy positioning itself as a front-runner in the area of e-transport, aided by an energy policy which gives tax-exempts to electric cars until at least 2012. When one considers that internal combustion engine cars are subject to 180% tax, that is a major incentive. And it has seen a long line of electric car manufacturers from around the world announcing plans to launch in Denmark.
One of the earliest players to pitch in was Shai Agassi's Better Place electric car scheme where consumers buy the car, but lease the battery which is designed for quick changing in a national network of roadside battery shift stations. Denmark's leading energy company DONG Energy has entered an investment partnership with Better Place in this endeavour, which will see the national network in place by 2012.
But back to COP15 and those golden promotional opportunities in Copenhagen this December. Understandably, Better Place wants to showcase its concept, and as professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer) reports, Copenhagen municipality has 'put a turbo on' the administrative paperwork that will enable Better Place to have battery shift stations up and running in the Danish capital by the time COP15 starts, so that the whole world can see how the system works in practice.
Naturally, Copenhagen municipality stresses that the collaboration with Better Place/DONG Energy in no way excludes other e-transport infrastructure providers or electric cars which are not compatible with the Better Place battery shift system. Indeed, the municipality has already given Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD (Build Your Dreams) fast-tracked approval to use two of its models on the streets of the capital as hotel shuttle cars for a limited period covering the COP15 event.