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District Heating and Cooling
in Copenhagen
Part of our Low Carbon Copenhagen project ... project index >
introduction  •  combined heat + power  •  Copenhagen's network  •  sources
key facts  •  urban planning timeline  •  pedestrianisation timeline  •  Denmark timeline
Combined heat + power (CHP)
Copenhagen's district heating network relies on its 10 main combined heat and power (CHP) plants. CHP plants generate electricity and usable heat in one process, usually referred to as cogeneration. It's a logical link-up, as generating (non-solar, non-wind power) electricity produces heat as a by-product, which would otherwise be wasted.
Copenhagen's district heating network is closely allied to its low carbon power generation strategies — its waste-to-energy and biomass stations are CHPs. Denmark has the most extensive CHP system in Europe.
Combined heat + power in Copenhagen
By putting the heat generated by burning fuel to make electricity to work in district heating, efficiency is increased, and overall fuel consumption reduced by around 30% when compared with separate electricity and heat generation. As there is no need for cooling water (or cooling towers), plants can be located near areas of high demand. The locations of Copenhagen's main CHP plants are shown on the district heating map. Not using individual boilers in each building has been estimated to have reduced heating-related CO2 emissions by 40-50%.
Denmark's use of CHP plants and district heating dates from the 1920s. However, the systems were expanded rapidly in the 1970s, when the world's oil crisis made fuel supplies to conventional power generation plants expensive (see timeline). The situation prompted the development of heating planning nationally and laws were passed to drive the development process forward. Today, energy taxes and subsidies are the main development drivers.
Copenhagen's CHP plants have a total capacity of around 2,000MW of heat. Heat is also supplied by the city's geothermal plant at Amager and its large waste water treatment plant. Two of the CHP plants are coal fired, two are gas fired, one burns gas and biomass, one gas and fuel-oil, three run on waste incineration and one on biomass alone (see right hand column).
The Danes consider this multiplicity of technologies and fuels a strength, providing a flexible system and supply security with less vulnerability to fuel price fluctuations. The newer plants can be adapted to use a variety of fuels, depending on availability.
There are three heat storage facilities in Copenhagen — two at the Avedøre CHP plant and one at Amager. They consist of large hot water accumulatiuon tanks, a bit like huge thermos flasks. They help optimize electricity and heat production, as the tanks can be filled and discharged in order to produce electricity in peak hours. This allows fuel-burning electricity generation to be kept to times when the price is high, increasing income. Heat storage is also used to regulate district heating.
The CHP plants are owned by two privatized companies subject to national and European competition rules, while the district heating system is owned by the citizens and run by heating companies. Agreement has been reached and methods developed for the optimzation of power and heat generation hour by hour, at the lowest possible cost — a notable feature of the way the Copenhagen runs its district heating network ..... next >
Top links
Heat Plan Denmark   www.energymap.dk/heatplan
Research and development study on the entire Danish heating sector
EnergyMap   www.energymap.dk/districtheating
Ramb&oslah;ll's district heating page on the Danish portal for energy-related solutions
Vestforbrænding   www.vestfor.com
Denmark's largest waste-to-energy plant, supplying district heating to Copenhagen's north west
Amagerforbrænding   www.amfor.com
CHP waste-to-energy plant at Amager
Dong Energy   www.dongenergy.com
One of the two privatized energy companies running CHP plants in Copenhagen
Vattenfall A/S   www.vattenfall.dk
The other privatized energy company running CHP plants in Copenhagen
A diagrammatic explanation of how a CHP plant works ...
introduction  •  combined heat + power  •  Copenhagen's network  •  sources
key facts  •  urban planning timeline  •  pedestrianisation timeline  •  Denmark timeline
images  courtesy Rambøll
sources and references  see sources
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Copenhagen's main
combined heat + power plants
Avedøre 1  ... www.dongenergy.com
max heat output  330MW
max electricity output  250MW
runs on  coal
built  1990
Avedøre 2  ... www.dongenergy.com
max heat output  570MW
max electricity output  570MW
runs on  gas, wood pellets, fuel-oil, straw
built  2001
Svanemølle  ... www.dongenergy.com
max heat output  138MW
max electricity output  71MW
runs on  gas
built  1995
H.C. Ørsted 8  ... www.dongenergy.com
max heat output  42MW
max electricity output  24MW
runs on  gas
built  2004
H.C. Ørsted 7  ... www.dongenergy.com
max heat output  224MW
max electricity output  88MW
runs on  gas, fuel-oil
built  1994
Amager 1  ... www.vattenfall.dk
max heat output  250MW
max electricity output  80MW
runs on  wood pellets, straw pellets (coal back-up)
built  2009
Amager 3  ... www.vattenfall.dk
max heat output  330MW
max electricity output  250MW
runs on  coal
built  1989
Amagerforbrænding  ... www.amfor.com
max heat output  120MW
max electricity output  29MW
runs on  waste
built  1991-2001
max heat output  12MW
max electricity output  71MW
runs on  waste
built  1970-2005
Vestforbrænding  ... www.vestfor.com
max heat output  31MW
max electricity output  219MW
runs on  waste
built  1976 onwards
The largest waste-to-energy plant in Scandanavia