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Wastewater and seawater tested as sources for Copenhagen district heating

By State of Green, April 04, 2019

A new heat pump in Copenhagen will collect energy from both wastewater and seawater and test how the energy can be used in district heating. The capacity of the heat pump corresponds to district heating for 1,100 Copenhagen households.

Large electric heat pumps are expected to be essential technology in the future sustainable energy system. This is why three Danish heating companies (HOFOR, CTR and VEKS) are working with a group of partners to establish a large demonstration heat pump using seawater and wastewater as heating sources. The heat pump is driven by electricity, which by 2030 is expected to be 100 per cent green in Denmark.

Electric heat pumps are starting to sneak into Copenhagen’s district heating grid. On 2 April 2019, the Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen, Ninna Hedeager Olsen, inaugurated a 5MW large heat pump close to the heavily trafficked Zealand Bridge (Sjællandsbroen) in Copenhagen.

“Copenhagen has put up an ambitious goal to become the world’s first CO2 neutral capital in 2025. However, we need to start aiming towards becoming a fossil free city by, for example, stopping waste incineration. This requires that we start experimenting with heat pumps and geothermal energy. This is why I am happy that we are finally experimenting with how it can fit into Copenhagen’s heat supply”, said the Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen Ninna Hedeager Olsen.

-Related solution: District heating supplying clean energy

More sustainable energy in the district heating system

The new heat pump will test if it can collect energy and heat from seawater and wastewater, which are some of the great energy sources that have potential to supply the capital area with district heating in the future. The heat pump is driven by electricity, which in the future is expected to be fully generated by sun and wind.

The project called SVAF (Danish for “big heat pumps for district heating”) will add more sustainable energy sources into the district heating system and open up for a future where both the district heating system and the energy system are becoming greener and more flexible.

”The future’s green and flexible energy system will be developed in several stages. Biomass is the first stepping-stone in Copenhagen’s goal to become the world’s first CO2 neutral capital city. In order to be ready for the next stage, it is important to gain experience at a large scale. It is important for us to test which heat sources are suitable for district heating and to decide how reliable, economically effective and flexible the technology is”, said the Managing Director at Hofor, Lars Therkildsen. He stresses that this is why it is a great milestone for the entire capital area that the test heat pumps are now put into work.

-Related solution: Integrated District Heating and Cooling in Greater Copenhagen

Increased export potential

The chairperson for the EUDP-pool, the director Thea Larsen from Danish Gas Technological Center, is excited to follow the heat pumps testing period, which will run for the next two years. EUDP has awarded DKK 22m to the new project SVAF and expects to get full value for their money. If the solution is viable it can increase the Danish export potential, she argues.

”The industry’s partners will then market the technology when the many visitors come to Copenhagen looking at green solutions”, said Thea Larsen and mentions saved fuel, exploitation of green electricity, flexibility, stable district heating and climate-friendly cooling resources as some of the arguments that can kick start the sale.

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