Environmental remediation seekers look to Denmark’s district heating system for inspiration

Date: 22 January 2015

Denmark’s district heating system, which has enabled the nation to drastically reduce its energy consumption and its hazardous emissions whilst maintaining economic growth, has caught the attention of countries around the world seeking environmental remediation.

When in March last year China announced its ‘war on pollution’, its first point of attack was the northern city of Anshan, the capital of China’s iron and steel industry, where 3.5 million breathe in fumes of the sulphur dioxide that plague the city’s air. When faced with the reality that they simply lacked the expertise to deal with the mass of fumes and pollutants that left rafts of fish dead in waterways, the Chinese sought inspiration from Denmark, where in Copenhagen, there has been a 40% reduction in emissions since 1990. This is mostly due to the Danes expertise in an environmental remediation technique they call district heating. District heating takes the heat that would otherwise be wasted from power stations and factories and uses it to warm water, saving emissions and money wasted through inefficient heating. Denmark developed this technique amidst the oil crisis of the 1970s when the Danish economy was hit so hard that they were banned driving on Sundays. With their power grid formed back in 1925, the use of district heating for the last couple of decades has seen it develop into the world’s largest, heating 98% of Danish homes.

Anshan is one of many Chinese sites of high level pollution in need of serious environmental remediation. On the east coast, large economic industries that have moved production inland have left behind environmental degradation at factory sites. Much Chinese farmland is also now useless, wasted terrain because of the overuse of pesticides and chemicals. In July, it was reported that 16$ of all Chinese soil was polluted whilst almost 20% of arable land was contaminated. With 8 million acres of land polluted beyond future agricultural use, the Chinese must begin serious environmental remediation if it is to continue to support one fifth of the world’s population on only 8% of its arable land. Environmental remediation market.

China’s issue of environmental remediation is typical of developing economies around the world where the speed of urbanisation and construction disregards human health in favour of production, and moves so fast that it does not return to contaminated sites to clean them up. Where environmental remediation techniques and efforts have significantly advanced in the last decade in developed economies, there is still progress to be made in cleaning up contaminated sites and regions, especially in the developing nations whose economies have stormed ahead of their consideration for human health.

The remediation technologies for the removal of pollutants or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment or surface water include thermal desorption, excavation or dredging, solidification and stabilisation, in situ oxidation, soil vapour extraction and bioremediation.

Source: Companiesandmarkets.com