Image: Amager Bakke, also known as Amager Slope or Copenhill, is a combined heat and power waste-to-energy plant and sports facility in Amager, Copenhagen. It opened in 2017 and doubles as a year-round artificial ski slope, hiking slope and climbing wall.
One of the oldest and most successful of its kind, Copenhagen’s district heating system was set up in 1984 by 5 mayors and today heats 98% of the city with clean, reliable and affordable heating. 30% of the annual heating demand is covered by surplus heat from waste incineration, contributing to a circular economy, while the remaining production is from geothermal energy and fuels such as wood pellets, straw, natural gas, and oil.
The system captures the waste heat from the electricity production of incineration plants and Combined Heat and Power plants (CHPs). This heat would normally be released into the sea as a byproduct. Instead, it is delivered to homes through a 1,300 km network of pipes. Four CHP power plants, four waste incinerators, and more than 50 peak load boiler plants, together with 20 distribution companies, are connected in the large pool-operated system, producing 30,000 Terajoules of energy. Compared with oil or gas boiler alternatives, CPH-based district heat reduces CO2 emissions by 40-50%.
The system cuts the average household bill by €1,400, reducing fuel poverty, and saves Copenhagen from using over 200,000 tons of oil every year – equating to around 665,000 tons of CO2 emissions avoided.
• Lower cost heat to households, reducing fuel poverty
• Can be delivered to businesses, greening retail and private sector firms
• Flexible in choice of production plant and fuels used
• Environmentally friendly due to use of a byproducts and sustainable fuels
• CHP technology is well-established; 12% of Europe’s electricity is generated from useable heat
So how does it work, how was it financed, and what are the conditions for success of a project like this?