Denmark is set to support 13 large heat pump projects with DKK23m ($3.7m) in funding, the country’s energy agency has announced.

The 13 projects will be installed at 11 combined heat and power (CHP)-based district heating plants across Denmark, which have a combined capacity of 29.7 MWe.

Work is expected to begin in the coming months and is planned for completion by the end of 2019, the energy agency said, adding that the projects will supply heat to over 29,000 households, replace fossil fuels at some district heating plants, and improve the utilization of variable renewable power sources such as wind turbines.

Supported projects include “a wide variety of renewable energy sources and surplus heat such as surplus heat from a cookie factory, biomass flue gas, outdoor air, outdoor air combined with solar heating and wastewater from purification plants,” the agency said.

Denmark’s support for electric heat pumps is targeted at avoiding price rises for district heating customers when the country’s current subsidy for natural gas-based CHP plants expires at the end of this year.

Heat suppliers “can reduce the heat bill by approximately DKK3000 per year per household by investing in new production units, such as electric heat pumps,” the agency said in a statement. This “can be of great importance to the approximately 200,000 Danish households which in the future risk heat increases of more than DKK4000 annually.”

The agency received 15 applications for heat pump projects with a total capacity of 30.3 MWe and a total construction cost of DKK218m. The support scheme covers up to 15 per cent of project costs.

Energy and climate minister Lars Christian Lilleholt said the government “would like to ensure consumers both green energy and reasonable heat prices”, adding that energy suppliers would “now have the opportunity to switch production to a more future-proof solution for green change, consumers and the plants themselves”.

Lilleholt said it was “crucial” that green energy was used not only for Denmark’s electricity supply, but also for heating. “Electric-powered heat pumps play a hero’s central role because they can contribute to both electrification and the efficiency of our district heating sector. Therefore, it is very high on the government’s agenda to promote the use of heat pumps,” he said.

Denmark plans to increase its support for electric heat pumps in small district heating networks to DKK27.9m in 2018.