Sustainable cities! Every mayor wants one. They attract green businesses, and the career-minded people who want to work there. Just proclaiming a community “green” isn’t nearly enough. Forward-thinking cities are walking the talk. I went looking for examples in Copenhagen, Denmark. The secret to their success is integrating energy production right into the city. They stopped worrying about the garbage and started becoming a carbon-neutral city.
Program Notes & Transcript
|“Sustaindinavia” is a public radio miniseries about sustainability in Scandinavia, hosted by Energy Priorities founding editor Denis DuBois. This installment is about integrated energy systems in Copenhagen, Denmark. The series is underwritten in part by i-Sustain. (EP photo)|
Annette Egetoft: “What we want to do is to inspire landowners and developers…Of course that means they’ll use less energy.”
Denis Du Bois: SUSTAINABLE CITIES! EVERY MAYOR WANTS ONE. THEY ATTRACT GREEN BUSINESSES, AND THE CAREER-MINDED PEOPLE WHO WANT TO WORK THERE.
JUST PROCLAIMING A COMMUNITY “GREEN” ISN’T NEARLY ENOUGH. FORWARD-THINKING CITIES ARE WALKING THE TALK.
I WENT LOOKING FOR EXAMPLES IN COPENHAGEN, DENMARK. THE SECRET TO THEIR SUCCESS IS INTEGRATING ENERGY PRODUCTION RIGHT INTO THE CITY.
I’LL SHOW YOU HOW THEY STOPPED WORRYING ABOUT THE GARBAGE AND STARTED BECOMING A CARBON-NEUTRAL CITY, IN THIS EDITION OF ENERGY PRIORITIES.
SCANDINAVIA IS KNOWN FOR MODERN DESIGN. IT’S ALSO HOME TO EXCELLENT EXAMPLES OF TRANSIT-ORIENTED COMMUNITIES, CLEAN ENERGY, AND REVITALIZED NEIGHBORHOODS. HOW DO THEY ACHIEVE SUSTAINABILITY, WHILE HONORING THEIR RICH HISTORY?
I’M DENIS DU BOIS AND THIS EDITION OF ENERGY PRIORITIES IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY IDEAS FROM SCANDINAVIA. WE’RE CALLING IT “SUSTAINDINAVIA.”
|Copenhagen is integrating its energy systems within the context of a busy, historic city. Within a stone’s throw of this 19th-century City Hall a major construction project is underway to install new pipes for district heating and cooling. Copenhagen’s first city hall was built in the 1400s.|
WE’LL START HERE IN COPENHAGEN, THE DANISH CAPITAL THAT RECENTLY HOSTED THE UNITED NATIONS’ FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE.
THE 1973 OIL CRISIS WAS A WAKE-UP CALL FOR DENMARK. IN RESPONSE, THE DANISH GOVERNMENT DRAFTED THE WORLD’S FIRST FORMAL ENERGY POLICY.
IT LAID DOWN GOALS FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY. THE COUNTRY THAT WAS 90 PERCENT DEPENDENT ON IMPORTED FOSSIL FUELS IS TODAY A NET EXPORTER OF OIL AND GAS. NOW, DENMARK OWES MORE THAN A LITTLE CREDIT TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SIZEABLE OIL AND GAS RESERVES OFF ITS SHORES IN THE NORTH SEA, BUT I’LL COME BACK TO THAT.
THREE DECADES AFTER THE OIL EMBARGOES, THE EUROPEAN UNION SET A TARGET FOR ITS DEVELOPED MEMBER STATES — REDUCE THEIR GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY AT LEAST EIGHTY PERCENT BY 2050.
AS A MEMBER OF THE EU, DENMARK IS SERIOUS ABOUT ACHIEVING THAT TARGET — BUT IT’S AN AMBITIOUS ONE. THE COUNTRY THAT’S HOME TO THE WORLD’S LARGEST MANUFACTURER OF WIND TURBINES STILL DEPENDS ON OIL, COAL AND GAS FOR EIGHTY PERCENT OF ITS ENERGY CONSUMPTION. (HERE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ELECTRICITY, HEAT, AND TRANSPORTATION.)
AT THE SAME TIME, THE DANISH GOVERNMENT UNDERSTANDS THE DEMAND FOR ENERGY WILL GROW UNLESS SOMETHING IS DONE TO REVERSE THE TREND.
ONE TREND DENMARK CAN’T REVERSE IS THE DECLINE OF NORTH SEA OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION, WHICH PEAKED IN 1999.
THE DANISH COMMISSION ON CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY HAS A PLAN FOR THE GRADUAL — BUT TOTAL — CONVERSION OF THE COUNTRY’S ENERGY SYSTEMS AWAY FROM FOSSIL FUELS.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY TOPS THE LIST OF SOME 40 INITIATIVES IN THAT PLAN.
COPENHAGEN HAS AN EVEN MORE AMBITIOUS PLAN — TO BE CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2025. THE CITY’S POPULATION DENSITY — THE NUMBER OF INHABITANTS PER SQUARE KILOMETER — IS HIGHER THAN BOSTON OR PHILADELPHIA. COPENHAGEN IS DOING SOME VERY INTERESTING THINGS WITH REGARD TO EFFICIENCY IN HIGH-DENSITY SETTINGS.
THEY’RE NOT JUST TELLING PEOPLE TO TURN OFF THE BATHROOM LIGHTS. THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT LARGE-SCALE EFFICIENCY, AND A PRIME EXAMPLE OF IT IS THE CONCEPT OF “LOW-ENERGY DISTRICTS,” OR NEIGHBORHOODS.
I MET WITH ANNETTE EGETOFT, WITH COPENHAGEN’S ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, TO LEARN ABOUT A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE CITY, ITS ENERGY UTILITIES, AND DEVELOPERS, TO REBUILD ENTIRE SECTIONS OF COPENHAGEN TO USE AS LITTLE ENERGY AS POSSIBLE.
Annette Egetoft: “What we want to do is to inspire landowners and developers to meet the requirements in the Low Energy Districts. Of course that means they’ll use less energy in these areas. We want them to think about using the district heating.”
“The planners, the architects, they don’t always think about energy in the very early stages of the planning process. We try with this project to make them think of it at an early stage.”
—-Annette Egetoft, Environmental Protection Agency, Municipality of Copenhagen
AS COPENHAGEN’S CITY PLANNERS DRAFT MASTER PLANS FOR DISTRICTS TO BE REDEVELOPED, THEY WORK CLOSELY WITH THE ENERGY UTILITIES.
IF LOCAL ENERGY SUPPLIERS BUILT ANY MORE COAL- OR GAS-FIRED POWER PLANTS, THEY’D CONTRIBUTE TO CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS AND THWART EFFORTS TO MEET THAT 2025 TARGET. AND NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS ARE OUTLAWED HERE.
THAT LEAVES RENEWABLE ENERGY TO POWER A GROWING CITY — WHILE MAINTAINING THE COMFORTABLE LIFESTYLE TO WHICH NORTHERN EUROPEANS HAVE BECOME ACCUSTOMED IN AN ERA OF PLENTIFUL ENERGY.
Egetoft: I’ve been dealing with urban planning for quite some years now. And the planners, the architects, they don’t always think about energy in the very early stages of planning process. We try with this project to make them think of it at an early stage. So we put up some recommendations for how to do it.
EVERY FORM OF POWER GENERATION IS CAPITAL-INTENSIVE TO BUILD, AND RENEWABLES RANK RIGHT UP THERE IN INITIAL COST.
IF DEVELOPERS BUILD ENERGY-EFFICIENT COMMUNITIES THAT OPTIMIZE RENEWABLE ENERGY, THEN THE UTILITY DOESN’T HAVE TO INVEST AS MUCH MONEY TO DEVELOP AS MUCH GENERATION CAPACITY.
Egetoft: What we’re doing is trying to give some inspiration to developers and also to the planners in the Municipality — how can we get the discussion about the energy supply into the discussion in the early stage of the planning process.
COPENHAGEN IS NO STRANGER TO INTEGRATED INFRASTRUCTURE AND URBAN PLANNING. IN THE NEXT 22 MINUTES WE’LL HEAR ABOUT HOW ITS POWER GENERATION PLANTS HAVE BEEN INTEGRATED WITH ITS DISTRICT HEATING INFRASTRUCTURE AND WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR ABOUT THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS — AND WHAT COPENHAGEN IS DOING TODAY THAT MAKES THIS A MECCA FOR OFFICIALS FROM OTHER CITIES THE WORLD OVER.
District heating and cooling
WHEN THE DANISH PEOPLE TALK ABOUT ENERGY SECURITY, THEY CAN GIVE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES.
Lars Gullov: We already saw, during the first World War, the benefits of district heting. We faced a boycott from German submarines in 1917, and the normal supplies of fuel to Denmark were cut off. We switched from coal to Danish lignite.
COPENHAGEN IS AT ABOUT THE SAME LATITUDE AS MOSCOW RUSSIA AND KETCHIKAN ALASKA. THE WINTERS ARE COLD AND UNFORGIVING. IN THIS CLIMATE, HEAT IS ESSENTIAL TO SURVIVAL.
A HALF-MILLION PEOPLE IN AND AROUND COPENHAGEN GET THEIR HEAT AND HOT WATER FROM A COMPANY CALLED VESTEGNENS KRAFTVARMESELSKAB, OR V-E-K-S.
MANAGING DIRECTOR LARS GULLOV IS GIVING ME A BRIEF HISTORY OF HEAT ENERGY SECURITY IN DENMARK, STARTING WITH THE GERMAN SUBMARINE BLOCKADES OF COAL SHIPMENTS DURING THE TWO WORLD WARS.
Gullov: And here, citizens with district heating were more happy than citizens with individual heating, because we could just change the fuel at the combined heat and power plant, and still supply houses and apartments with district heating. People with individual heating had to freeze. It’s not a joke.
BY THAT TIME DENMARK ALREADY HAD COMBINED HEAT AND POWER PLANTS — THOSE ARE ELECTRIC POWER GENERATING FACILITIES WHERE EXCESS HEAT IS CAPTURED AND PUT TO GOOD USE.
IN DENMARK THE CAPTURED HEAT WAS DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT THE CITY BY A NETWORK OF STEAM PIPES.
THE COMBINED HEAT AND POWER PLANTS — CHP FOR SHORT — WERE FLEXIBLE ENOUGH TO SWITCH FROM COAL, WHICH WAS RATIONED, TO LIGNITE, OIL RESIDUE, WOOD CHIPS, EVEN GRASS CLIPPINGS — TO KEEP THE HEAT ON.
Gullov: Again during the second World War we faced the same problem. Buying coal and oil from normal suppliers was not possible. And therefore, again, we had to start up this local production lignite. We learned during the second World War to use all kinds of low-grade fuels, like fly ash, like deposits of waste oil, and tar from gas pipes. And again, like in the first World War, In both cases, citizens supplied with district heating were comfortable in terms of indoor temperatures than those with individual heating.
TODAY, CHP IS THE STANDARD FOR ENERGY GENERATION IN DENMARK. THE REASON IS ENERGY EFFICIENCY.
A TYPICAL COAL PLANT CONVERTS ABOUT A QUARTER OF THE COAL’S ENERGY INTO ELECTRICITY. THREE-FOURTHS OF THE FUEL’S ENERGY GOES UP IN SMOKE — OR, MORE SPECIFICALLY, HEAT.
THAT’S A HUGE WASTE. IN THE U.S., 22 PERCENT OF THE ELECTRICITY CONSUMED IN HOMES GOES TO MAKING HEAT AND HOT WATER. IN OTHER WORDS, WE CONVERT COAL INTO ONE PART ELECTRICITY AND THREE PARTS HEAT. WE THROW AWAY THE HEAT AND TRANSMIT THE ELECTRICITY TO HOMES, WHERE WE CONVERT IT TO: HEAT.
BY CAPTURING THE WASTE HEAT AT THE SOURCE, AND USING IT, DENMARK DRAMATICALLY INCREASES THE EFFICIENCY OF THEIR POWER PLANTS. CHP PLANTS CAN ACHIEVE UPWARDS OF 90 PERCENT EFFICIENCY.
LARS GULLOV’S COMPANY RUNS A NETWORK OF TRANSMISSION PIPELINES THAT COLLECT HEAT AND DELIVER IT TO DISTRICT HEATING COMPANIES. THOSE COMPANIES RESELL THAT HEAT INTO BUSINESSES AND HOMES.
98 PERCENT OF THE BUILDINGS IN COPENHAGEN ARE HEATED BY THE DISTRICT HEATING SYSTEM. PRIVATE BOILERS AND ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS ARE PRACTICALLY NON-EXISTENT.
THE POPULARITY OF DISTRICT HEAT IS ATTRIBUTED TO ITS ECONOMY. HEAT IS A BY-PRODUCT OF GENERATING ELECTRICITY. THAT MAKES DISTRICT HEAT THE LOWEST-COST OPTION ON THE MARKET.
Gullov: So it was not a political decision to develop district heating in Denmark, it was the market forces. And that is, for me, important to underline, because we face that argument, that it’s been simple to develop district heating in Denmark because you are acting under an umbrella of a planned economy. But driver from the beginning was market.
A DRIVER BEHIND DENMARK’S DECISION TO REDUCE ITS DEPENDENCE ON FOSSIL FUELS WAS ANOTHER MARKET EFFECT: THE OIL EMBARGOES OF THE 1970S.
Gullov: So, in fact, 35 years ago, we faced the same situation they faced 3 years ago in Ukraine. It was just natural gas which was cut off.
TODAY THE PRESSURE DOESN’T COME FROM SUBMARINES OR OPEC, IT COMES FROM CARBON CONSTRAINTS. DENMARK IS AIMING TO MEET THE KYOTO PROTOCOL AND OTHER TARGETS WITH A COMBINATION OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY.
WITH SOME SIMPLE POLICIES, DENMARK CUT ITS ENERGY CONSUMPTION IN HALF.
Gullov: The energy taxes introduced in the beginning of the 1980s, they were spent for financing grants to the population. So it was a closed system with no influence on state budget.
THE TAX RAISED THE COST OF ENERGY AND HEAT. AT THE SAME TIME, THE GRANTS PAID FOR BETTER INSULATION, WINDOWS, AND RADIATORS.
Gullov: So for the consumers they didn’t face increasing energy prices because they reduced their energy consumption. That was the secret for this transformation we made through the eighties and nineties.
RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGETS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION ARE EASY TO REMEMBER…
Gullov: 20-20-20 in 2020 — 20 percent of energy consumption has to be based on renewable energy; 20 percent reduction of CO2 emissions, and 20 percent savings, by 2020.
WITHIN ITS DISTRICT HEATING NETWORK, COPENHAGEN HAS ALREADY MET THE FIRST TARGET. 25 PERCENT OF THE HEAT SUPPLY COMES FROM WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLANTS. 70 PERCENT COMES FROM OTHER CHP PLANTS, SOME OF WHICH HAVE ALREADY CONVERTED TO BIOMASS FOR FUEL. A SMALL PORTION IS SURPLUS HEAT FROM INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES, LIKE BREWERIES.
ON A BROADER SCALE, DENMARK WON’T HAVE ANY TROUBLE MEETING THE RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY TARGETS. WESTERN DENMARK HAS THE MOST DENSE CONCENTRATION OF WIND TURBINES IN THE WORLD.
ONE DOWNSIDE OF WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY IS THAT IT SOMETIMES PRODUCES MORE ELECTRICITY THAN IS NEEDED. DISTRICT HEAT PROVIDES A KIND OF “BATTERY” TO STORE THE EXCESS ENERGY.
Gullov: So we can utilize electricity from wind turbines, instead of exporting it to Germany, or Sweden, or Norway, for zero point nothing. And we have storage facilities within the greater Copenhagen district heating system to ensure that we can balance production with consumption on an hourly basis.
BY INTEGRATING WITH WIND POWER, THE DISTRICT HEATING COMPANIES CAN RUN ELECTRIC HEAT PUMPS PRACTICALLY FREE, STORE THE HOT WATER IN HUGE STORAGE TANKS, THEN RUN OFF THAT STORED ENERGY FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS.
|Cranes carefully lower insulated steel water pipes into trenches.|
|There are four pipes in this system. One insulated pipe carries hot water, another carries cool water. Two more pipes return the water to be reheated at power plants and other sites.|
|After the inner pipe is welded, an outer pipe sleeve is attached, then insulation is injected at each joint to finish the job.|
AS THE COPENHAGEN AREA GROWS, THE DISTRICT HEATING COMPANIES HAVE A PLAN TO KEEP THE INHABITANTS COMFORTABLE AT THE LOWEST POSSIBLE COST TO CUSTOMERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT.
PART OF THAT PLAN INVOLVES CONVERTING THE OLD STEAM NETWORK OVER TO HOT WATER.
NICK BJØRN ANSERSEN IS IN CHARGE OF THE PROJECT.
Nick Bjorn Ansersen: The reason for converting the steam [system] to hot water is the production cost is much cheaper. We want to get it, as part of the big system, where we can always take heat from where it’s cheapest.
BY SWITCHING TO HOT WATER, COPENHAGEN IS OPENING UP A MARKETPLACE FOR SURPLUS HEAT. ANY COMPANY WITH A PROCESS THAT THROWS OFF EXCESS HEAT CAN NOW SELL IT INTO THE DISTRICT HEATING SYSTEM.
THE MOVE TO HOT WATER IS EVEN GOOD FOR CHP PLANTS — THEY PRODUCE MORE ELECTRICITY WHEN THEIR HEAT IS TAKEN OFF AS HOT WATER INSTEAD OF STEAM.
HOT WATER SYSTEMS ARE SAFER THAN STEAM, AND THEY’RE ALL-AROUND LESS EXPENSIVE TO RUN.
Ansersen: The operation and maintenance cost has been reduced from $12 per foot per year, to $1 per foot per year.
WE’LL FIND OUT HOW THEY INSTALL HUGE WATER PIPES UNDER THE COBBLESTONE STREETS OF A MEDIEVAL CITY. AND WE’LL TOUR A POWER PLANT THAT RUNS ON GARBAGE. AFTER THIS SHORT BREAK.
YOU’RE LISTENING TO ENERGY PRIORITIES, I’M DENIS DU BOIS. AND WE ARE IN THE CITY CENTER OF COPENHAGEN DENMARK.
Anders Dyrelund: In this area we are supplying district heating using steam. And this is what we are going to convert to hot water-based district heating.
ANDERS DYRELUND IS THE MANAGER FOR CLIMATE AND ENERGY AT RAMBOLL DENMARK, AND MY GUIDE THROUGH A CONSTRUCTION SITE IN THE HEART OF OLD COPENHAGEN.
Dyrelund: What we’re looking at is actually a cooperation between district heating and district cooling. We see four pipes going along the streets. The two lower of these pipes are for district cooling. The other ones are for district heating.
WE’RE OVERLOOKING OPEN TRENCHES, WITNESSING THE CONVERSION OF STEAM PIPES OVER TO HOT WATER, AND THE ADDITION OF DISTRICT COOLING.
A CRANE CAREFULLY LOWERS DOUBLE-LAYERED PIPES INTO THE TRENCH. SPECIAL INSULATION BETWEEN THE STEEL LAYERS KEEPS THE HEAT IN.
COBBLESTONES ARE NEATLY SET ASIDE, SO THE STREET CAN BE REPAVED LATER. THE TRENCH WILL BE OPEN FOR ABOUT 7 MONTHS. AN ARCHAEOLOGIST IS ALWAYS ON CALL, TO IDENTIFY OBJECTS UNCOVERED BENEATH THE STREETS OF THIS THOUSAND-YEAR-OLD CITY.
IT’S A DELICATE AND EXPENSIVE OPERATION.
Dyrelund: 2.5 billion Danish Crowns, that’s approximately $500 million US. So it’s something. We need to redo approximately 100 kilometers of pipeline, at approximately $5,000 per meter. It’s a lot of money, yeah, it is a lot of money.
THE UP-FRONT COST IS AN INVESTMENT IN A SYSTEM THAT PROVIDES ENERGY SECURITY TO COPENHAGEN. WILL THE INVESTMENT PAY OFF? A CENTURY OF EXPERIENCE HERE SAYS IT WILL.
|The cavernous interior of the Amagerforbraending waste-to-energy plant is noisy, but remarkably clean — especially considering the only fuel used here is trash.|
Waste to energy
REMEMBER THE MOVIE, “SEX LIES & VIDEOTAPE” WHERE ANDIE MCDOWELL IS TELLING HER ANALYST SHE’S GOTTEN REAL CONCERNED OVER WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH ALL THE GARBAGE?
A MOMENT AGO I MENTIONED THAT 25 PERCENT OF COPENHAGEN’S HEAT SUPPLY COMES FROM WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLANTS.
AT THE TURN OF THE 20TH CENTURY, COPENHAGEN WAS A FAST-GROWING METROPOLIS. THIS SMALL PENINSULA HAD RUN OUT OF SPACE FOR LANDFILLS. AND THEY WORRIED ABOUT THE GARBAGE.
THEIR SOLUTION? USE IT TO CREATE ENERGY.
|Visitors can peek through a small window at the burning fuel. Ovens burn a load of waste in 2 hours, at the rate of 13 to 17 tons per hour. The temperature inside is 1700 F.|
|Metal and stone don’t burn, so that material (called slag) is placed outside to cool.|
|Larger metal parts are extracted with magnets for recycling. The rest is ground into agregate for road construction. The plant produces 80,000 tons of reusable materials per year.|
|Smoke from the ovens goes through a multi-stage, high-tech cleaning process. Dust from the scrubbers is used to backfill a mine in Norway.|
|When the exhaust emerges from the top of the smokestack, it’s invisible and 95 percent free of pollutants.|
THEY BUILT A WASTE INCINERATION PLANT RIGHT IN THE CITY OF COPENHAGEN. THEN ANOTHER…THEN…(FADE UNDER)
Guide: We are on our way up to the platform where the trucks come in every day and offload waste.
THIS IS THE ENTRANCE TO THE AMAGERFORBRÆNDING WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLANT.
HERE THEY DISPOSE OF 440 THOUSAND TONS OF WASTE A YEAR. IT ARRIVES FROM 5 MUNICIPALITIES, AROUND THE CLOCK. HALF OF IT COMES FROM HOUSEHOLDS, THE OTHER HALF FROM INDUSTRY.
Guide: All the trucks are being weighed and registered when they arrive, so we know how much waste they bring and where they bring it from.
THE INTERIOR IS CAVERNOUS — AND SURPRISINGLY CLEAN. MY GUIDE WALKS ME PAST THE WINDOWS OF A ROOM FULL OF COMPUTER SCREENS. THIS IS WHERE THEY CONTROL EVERY STEP OF THE PROCESS — WASTE COMBUSTION, REMOVING ASH, GENERATING ENERGY AND HEAT, AND SCRUBBING THE EMISSIONS.
Guide: Now we’ll move on to the ovens.
Guide: This is the furnace room, where we have four ovens. Maybe you can hear sound of waste falling into ovens. It falls down here, and it’s being pushed to the other end while it burns.
EACH OF THESE FOUR OVENS CONSUMES BETWEEN 13 AND 17 TONS OF SOLID WASTE AN HOUR. THE TEMPERATURE INSIDE IS 950 DEGREES CELSIUS — 1700 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.
Guide: If you want you can look inside an oven, I’ll just open it up for you.
GLOWING RED LIGHT THROBS THROUGH A LITTLE PORTHOLE, ABOUT THE SIZE OF A SKI GOGGLE. AS I PEER THROUGH THE GLASS, I CAN SEE FLAMES AND BRIGHT EMBERS INSIDE THE FURNACE.
Guide: Don’t’ go too close!
IT’S ACTUALLY SO HOT THE GARBAGE WOULD STICK TO THE INTERIOR, IF THE WALLS WEREN’T WATER-COOLED.
ALL THIS INTENSE HEAT BOILS WATER TO MAKE HIGH-PRESSURE STEAM, AND THAT DRIVES TWO POWER-GENERATING TURBINES.
ONE TURBINE PRODUCES 8 AND A HALF MEGAWATTS OF ELECTRICITY. THAT’S THE SMALL ONE. THE LARGER ONE IS 20 MEGAWATTS. THAT’S OUR NEXT STOP.
Guide: We’re inside turbine room now, they’re in here…
AFTER PASSING THROUGH THE TURBINES, THE STEAM HEATS WATER FOR THE CITY’S DISTRICT HEATING SYSTEM. THEN IT CIRCULATES BACK INTO THE PLANT TO START THE PROCESS OVER.
THE WASTE THAT WON’T BURN IS CALLED SLAG — PARTICLES OF IT DROP FROM THE OVENS ONTO CONVEYOR BELTS AND GET COOLED WITH SEA WATER.
Guide: This is the slag, and it’s about 80,000 tons per year. A mixture of gravel, metal, glass. And as it is, when it falls down, it contains heavy metals as well.
ONCE OUTSIDE THE PLANT, IT COOLS DOWN FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS. BIG MAGNETS PULL OUT THE METAL SO IT CAN BE RECYCLED…
Guide: and the rest is made into a finer fraction, which can be used for making roads.
MEANWHILE, THE SMOKE FROM THE FURNACES GOES THROUGH A MULTI-STAGE, HIGH-TECH CLEANING PROCESS.
Guide: And the the dust from the cleaning the of the smoke is picked up here by a truck.
WHEN THE EXHAUST EMERGES FROM THE TOP OF THE SMOKESTACK, IT’S 95 PERCENT FREE OF POLLUTANTS. AND IT’S A GOOD THING…
Guide: OK, We’re going up to the roof now.
FROM THE ROOF IT’S OBVIOUS JUST HOW CLOSE THIS PLANT IS TO THE SURROUNDING BUSINESSES AND APARTMENTS. I CAN SEE OTHER SMOKESTACKS SCATTERED AROUND THE CITYSCAPE. IN FACT, I CAN SEE QUITE A DISTANCE. THE AIR IS CLEAR.
BURNING TRASH ISN’T THE FINAL SOLUTION FOR WASTE OR ENERGY. COPENHAGEN IS EXPERIMENTING WITH ANOTHER METHOD OF WASTE DISPOSAL THAT COULD EVENTUALLY REPLACE INCINERATION. IN A PILOT PROJECT NOT FAR FROM HERE, THEY’RE BOILING WASTE. THAT SEPARATES IT INTO A FLUID AND SOLIDS. THE SOLIDS ARE RECYCLED. THEY ADD ENZYMES TO THE FLUID AND TURN IT INTO A BIOFUEL. IN ALL, THE WASTE PRODUCES MORE ENERGY THAT WAY THAN IT DOES WHEN IT’S BURNED.
BUT THIS PLANT I’M STANDING ON IS NO EXPERIMENT. TURNING WASTE INTO ENERGY IS A NATIONAL COMMITMENT, COUPLED WITH AGGRESSIVE WASTE-REDUCTION POLICIES, SUCCESSFUL RECYCLING PROGRAMS, AND A STRONG ENVIRONMENTAL ETHIC.
DENMARK, A COUNTRY ABOUT HALF THE SIZE OF MAINE, HAS 29 WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLANTS. AMONG EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, IT RANKS FOURTH. ITALY HAS 49 PLANTS, GERMANY, 58, AND FRANCE, 123.
THERE ARE WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLANTS IN THE UNITED STATES — FEWER THAN A HUNDRED GENERATING UNITS.
BY CONTRAST, WE HAVE ALMOST 7,000 COAL- AND GAS-FIRED GENERATORS.
DISTRICT HEATING AND COOLING, COMBINED HEAT AND POWER, STORING WIND ENERGY, AND ALLOWING CUSTOMERS TO BUY AND SELL HEAT — ALL ARE EXAMPLES OF THE DEEP INTEGRATION OF ENERGY SYSTEMS THAT’S HELPING COPENHAGEN BECOME A CARBON-NEUTRAL CITY, AND GETTING DENMARK OFF OF FOSSIL FUELS. LARS GULLOV:
Lars Gullov: The target for CO2 reductions for 2050 is between 60 and 80 percent. Combined heat and power, district heating and cooling, they have had influence on the targets we have set up in Denmark, where we will reduce fossil in 2025 by 15 percent and, in long run, we will be free of fossil fuels.
Integrated energy systems
WHERE I REALLY SAW THESE CONCEPTS COMING TOGETHER WAS BACK AT THE OFFICE OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF COPENHAGEN. THEY’RE DEVELOPING LOW-ENERGY DISTRICTS BY APPLYING THIS INTEGRATION — THIS PARTNERSHIP — OF VARIOUS PLAYERS.
Annette Egetoft: The partnership was decided in our plan for 2009 — we have a 4-year plan for development in the city — and in this plan it was put up that we should make this partnership between the city of Copenhagen and Copenhagen energy.
Two years ago they made a change in our law of planning. They said a few areas in the city should be pointed out as Low Energy Districts. And the city of Copenhagen decided to point out some different areas. Maybe you already heard about Norhavn, and it is a huge area, there will be about 40,000 people living here [50 years from now], and 40,000 new jobs. Of course it’s huge area.
Then we have a Campus for the University of Copenhagen. Carlsberg is also a new area that’s being developed.
THAT’S THE OLD CARLSBERG BREWERY, WHICH MOVED TO A NEW LOCATION IN 2008. CARLSBERG… NORHAVN… THE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS… THESE ARE ALL DISTRICTS WITHIN THE HISTORIC CITY. COPENHAGEN HAS TO RESPECT ITS RICH HERITAGE, WHILE LOOKING AHEAD TO THE 2025 GOAL OF BEING CARBON NEUTRAL.
Egetoft: That’s a huge challenge. Supplying these new areas, and supplying the old areas, is a very important issue.
SUPPLYING ENERGY IS IMPORTANT, BUT SO IS ENERGY EFFICIENCY. EGETOFT’S OFFICE HAS CREATED A DEVELOPER’S IDEA CATALOG AS A REFERENCE TOOL.
Egetoft: In this catalog we tried to make some recommendations for planners. One example is how you orient your building, or the proportions of the windows.
DEVELOPERS CAN USE IDEAS IN THE CATALOG, OR PROPOSE THEIR OWN, TO MAKE THEIR BUILDINGS MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT.
|District heating acts as a battery for wind power. Excess electricity is used to heat water, which is then stored in large tanks. The heating utility can draw on that thermal storage when wind energy production drops off.|
WHAT MANY NORTH AMERICAN CITIES WOULD LIKE TO ACHIEVE, COPENHAGEN HAS BEEN PERFECTING FOR A CENTURY — GENERATING CARBON-NEUTRAL ELECTRICITY, ELIMINATING 97 PERCENT OF THE GARBAGE THAT WOULD HAVE GONE INTO LANDFILLS, AND SUPPLYING RELIABLE, LOW-COST HEAT TO ENTIRE CITIES.
CAN WE REPEAT THEIR SUCCESSES?
WASTE-TO-ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES ARE MATURE, AND FAR CHEAPER THAN A LOT OF ALTERNATIVES. THEY EVEN QUALIFY FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY SUBSIDIES. WASTE TO ENERGY IS A WAY TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE GARBAGE, AND ABOUT WHETHER TO BUILD NEW COAL OR NUCLEAR PLANTS TO POWER OUR GROWING CITIES. YET, PROPOSALS FOR NEW PLANTS RUN UP AGAINST POWERFUL LOBBIES AND STIFF LOCAL OPPOSITION.
DISTRICT HEATING AND COOLING CAN BE IMPLEMENTED IN EXISTING CITIES. COPENHAGEN IS INSTALLING NEW PIPES UNDER STREETS THAT WERE BUILT BEFORE COLUMBUS SAILED THE OCEAN BLUE. IN MOST NORTH AMERICAN CITIES, EACH BUILDING ALREADY HAS ITS OWN PRIVATE SOURCES OF HOT WATER, SPACE HEATING AND COOLING. IT WOULD TAKE A FEW DECADES, BETWEEN NEW CONSTRUCTION AND RETROFITS, TO MAKE THE SWITCH TO DISTRICT HEATING AND COOLING.
THE REAL STRENGTH OF THESE IDEAS IS IN THEIR INTEGRATION. TO CROSS BOUNDARIES AND INTEGRATE THE DISCIPLINES WE’VE HEARD ABOUT TODAY, DOES TAKE LEADERSHIP, A LONG-TERM VISION, AND A COMMITMENT TO A COMMON GOAL.
DOES THAT MEAN WE HAVE TO WAIT FOR CAP-AND-TRADE LEGISLATION BEFORE WE CAN JUSTIFY USING THESE IDEAS?
HARDLY. COPENHAGEN HAS BEEN USING THEM SINCE 1903.
FOR ENERGY PRIORITIES, I’M DENIS DU BOIS.
“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” Les Brown, Columbia, 1946. Arranged by Skip Martin; written in 1937 by Irving Berlin. Locate
“Only So Much Oil in the Ground,” Tower of Power, “Urban Renewal” album, Warner Bros., 1974. Locate
Opening riff of “Sex Lies & Videotape,” Cliff Martinez, Miramax/Sony Pictures, 1984. Locate