One billion DKK into solar thermal solutions for district heating

Date: 28/08/2015

Few people associate Denmark with sunshine, however, solar thermal solutions are a Danish core competence, and solar thermal plants are shooting up across the Danish landscape. There’s been a significant rise – up by 107% from 2012 to 2014 – and now an additional 1 billion DKK is invested into solar thermal systems for district heating.

63 solar thermal solutions covering 10,000 square meters are currently scattered across the Danish landscape. And more are on their way. During next year, solar panels will constitute 1.1 million square meters in Denmark, raising the bar for renewable energy production, spurring jobs, and reducing more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 each year: “Solar thermal solutions are rapidly developing. Not only are the plants growing in size, they’re also better and utilising the energy more efficiently, and combining it with energy storage, as well as other energy sources,” said Rasmus B. Eriksen, technical consultant at the Danish District Heating Association.

A world-class solar thermal solution
As Gram Fjernvarme (Gram District Heating) inaugurates its state-of-the-art solar thermal solution; combining a 122 million litre storage pit with a heat pump, an electric boiler and excess heat from a local factory. Integrating these solutions into one whole denotes a kind of district heating plant, which society demands and needs. By combining solar and wind with excess heat from a nearby carpet factory (Egetæpper), it stores the energy from “summer sun” for the “winter cold”, while simultaneously utilizing wind power during high capacity, or power from natural gas, when the wind isn’t blowing.

This is the flexible energy battery of the future for the entire energy system, which also can utilise green biogas from a nearby biogas plant for energy-efficient district heating.

District heating as a Danish export adventure
Investments into district heating solutions, which is what the solar thermal solutions contribute to, is an area of great international interest and export potential for Denmark. At present, Danish exports of district heating solutions exceed 5 billion DKK each year – and companies expect an export growth of 1 billion DKK a year, for instance because Germany is demanding green and energy-efficient district heating.

“The oil crises of the 1970ies hit Denmark hard, but we came out stronger on the other side within an energy system largely based on district heating. Now it’s time to rethink the district heating system so it becomes even better at incorporating, for instance wind power and excess heat – it’s also tome to export the world-class Danish district heating technology as combined systems, not as standalone components”, said Anders Eldrup, Chairman of the green think tank Grøn Energi.

Facts about solar thermal developments in Denmark
◾62 facilities in operation – 21 on their way
◾The facilities currently take up 628,624 m2
◾512,000 m2 planned in 2015/2016
◾Costs approx. 2 million DKK per 1000 m2.

Source: State of Green / The Danish District Heating Association

The next issue (September 2015) of Hot Cool published by DBDH will feature a solar district heating theme. 
Get your free copy here.