R&D Project

Future smart solutions in the metropolitan area, Nordhavn

EnergyLab Nordhavn

About Author

From 2015 to 2019 the project EnergyLab Nordhavn – New Urban Energy Infrastructures has utilized Copenhagen’s Nordhavn as a full-scale smart city energy lab and demonstrated how electricity and heating, energy-efficient buildings and electric transport can be integrated into an intelligent, flexible and optimized energy system.

See partner

Get an overview of the future smart energy solutions in Nordhavn smart living lab

Electric Heating

In selected house holds, electric radiators that can store electricity as heat will be installed and tested. The radiators will store energy when there is a surplus of electricity in the grid – for instance, during periods with strong wind that results in high energy production, or during the night when the demand for energy is low. The stored energy can be used for heating later when needed.

Battery Storage

The future renewable energy supply will come from a coherent and flexible energy system – locally photovoltaic installations or nationally from  biomass (eg. Sustainable wood) and wind turbines. When the renewable energy sources produce more electricity than consumes, surplus energy can be stored in battery in Nordhavn. The battery can store energy until needed in, for example, a building, a group of buildings or charging stations for electrical vehicles.


Nordhavn in Copenhagen is Scandinavia’s largest metropolitan development projects. Nordhavn will over the next 50 years be developed into a sustainable city districr with 40,000 new residents. The project Energy Lab Nordhavn will involve building in experiments with new methods of controlling energy consumption in the household. This will happen via computer-based building management system that communicate with energy systems and intelligent home automation systems. In the long term, the residents in Nordhavn will benefit from the project, for example, by greater control over the households energy consumption.

Sustainable transport

There will be easy access to public transport in the sustainable city, for example Metro.

Cars will park in multi-story car parks with intelligent charging systems for electric vehicles.  The charging of the electric vehicles will be managed intelligently in interaction with the energy system. It means that charging can be done flexibly, so the vehicle can avoid charging in periods with high demand for electricity – for instance in the evening when a large number of households are preparing dinner. Electric vehicles can even supply power to the energy system through their batteries if needed. However, electric vehicle owners must be able to control the charging of the car, so it is always ready for use when needed. Solutions for these types of challenges will be developed by Energy Lab Nordhavn.

Intelligent building and automation controllers

Each household has an intelligently controlled device connected to the internet, for example, available on a smartphone, Thereby, residents can optimize and manage their own energy consumption, set their preferences and acquire services from their energy supplier. Compared to today, energy companies will even be able to improve the service provided. By a profile defined by the consumer, the energy company will be able to control household energy consumption optimally according the consumer’s preferences. In situations where the automatic profile is inadequate, the consumer will be able to take control. That is, for instance, if the temperature in the apartment is too low,  it will be possible to turn up the heat via the device.

New business models

EnergyLab Nordhavn will develop new and innovative business models that are attractive for building owners and residents. The business models will be controlled by a computer-based data system developed in the project. The project will make it possible to provide new services in the energy system. For example, the project will investigate the possibility of buying indoor climate comfort in the form of specified air quality (e.g via automatic ventilation when needed) or a certain temperature instead of kWh.

Control of heat pumps

Buildings can be heated with electricity or with heat. This can be controlled by large heat pumps in the district heating system. The electricity and district heating system will be interconnected and can supplement each other depending on what is more price efficient, or better for the energy system. For example, electricity can be used for heating when there is surplus electricity production in the system by wind turbines due to strong wind – or because the overall power consumption is low during the night. The utilization of heat pumps can be optimized by controlling the price of electricity and heat in accordance with supply and demand.

Commercial and office buildings

Over the next 50 year Nordhavn will provide 40,000 new jobs. EnergyLab Nordhavn will demonstrate heating solutions that ensure optimal use of the energy  in individual buildings or groups of buildings combined in local energy systems. For example, heat pumps in the energy system can exchange heat in apartment buildings and at the same time cool commercial and office buildings.  In this way, energy utilization can be optimized. This can be done isolated in the buildings or in interaction with the supply system, e.g. electrical system and district heating.

Nordhavn Showroom

On the groundfloor of the iconic silo of Nordhavn, an exhibition on both the urban development area Nordhavn and the project EnergyLab Nordhavn can be visited. The exhibition is open to the public and visitors can learn about the interaction between the technologies developed in EnergyLab Nordhavn, and get a better understanding of the project’s new business model. In the longer term, visitors can also get information about the quantity of heat and electricity consumed in Nordhavn, and how the area interact flexibly with the overall energy system.

Low temperature district heating and heat exchange

EnergyLab Nordhavn is working on the development of low-temperature district heating solutions, where the temperature is lower than in the rest of Copenhagen. Low temperatures reduces heat loss in the systems, but can have other downsides.  This is explored in the project. The low temperatures can ease the way for heat sources, such as surplus heat, solar heating and geothermal heat. In the future, residents will get a more dynamic energy supply, where the buildings can produce heat and exchange surplus heat and cooling with each other.

Heat storage

The project will test solutions where water is heated with electricity in a large water tank at a combined heat and power plant and stored when there is surplus of electricity in the grid. This kind of solution is crucial when the share of renewable energy sources increases, because the production of electricity will vary from day to day – or hour by hour.

Today, the heat store recives heat from the combined heat and power plant, but in the future it may be more cost-efficient to use surplus electricity. The heat store is located in the existing heat and power plant on the island of Amager. In the future; Amager Power Plant  will be based on 100 % sustaibale biomass, i.e. the burning of, for example, sustainable wood form the production of timber of furniture etc.

Sustainable energy

One of the mayor challenges of the future energy system is that an increasing share of energy will be produced by fluctuating renewable energy sources, particularly wind.  With a more unstable energy production, intelligent control of the energy system is required to ensure that the system will meet future demands. This is not only a challenge in Nordhavn, but nationally and internationally.

The vision for EnergyLab Nordhavn is that the concepts and systems developed in the project will pioneer sustainable low-energy cities all over the world.

Coordinated control of systems

The project EnergyLab Nordhavn will improve the flexibility of the energy system by developing computer-based data systems, which are handled by the experimental facilities for electric power and energy, PowerLab. The data systems will manage, regulate, monitor and balance the production and consumption of electricity and heat. For example, it will be possible to optimize local energy consumption and store energy on the basis of predictions, weather forecasts and the energy supply situation.

In the future, coordinated control will be crucial, because the energy production will be distributed on a much larger number of units than today – ranging from power plant and wind turbines to electric vehicles and photovoltaic cells. The systems must be able to handle new business models, and intelligent control units must be able to communicate with the system.

Did you like this solution?

EnergyLab Nordhavn
  • 1 Solutions
  • 7 News
Primary contact
Christoffer Greisen


Looking for our logo?

Find it in the State of Green Toolbox together with loads of materials to help you promote Denmark’s green solutions abroad.
Visit toolbox