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Danish City Leading in Eco-Friendly Power Generation

Posted January. 13, 2010 08:25,   


The Danish city of Thisted uses alternative and environment-friendly energy sources from wind to geothermal power, and recycles all sorts of garbage and residue from slaughterhouses.

With a population of about 46,000, the city is situated in the northwest region of the Jutland Peninsula. Known as the country’s best sustainable and environmentally friendly city, Thisted is unrivaled in generating renewable energy sources.

Denmark’s west coast extends 100 kilometers and borders the North Sea, and has strong winds and high waves throughout the year. Wind surfers from around the world flock to the area, calling it “cold Hawaii.”

Thisted is an ideal place for wind power generation. When a Dong-A Ilbo reporter arrived there after an hour-long flight and a two-hour drive from Copenhagen Dec. 14 last year, the winds were so strong that one could hardly walk.

The city began to meet its electricity demand from wind power in 1992. Thisted is called “Denmark’s cradle of wind power generation,” but also uses solar and geothermal energy.

Rolled-up wheat thatches as tall as a man are scattered throughout farm fields. The thatches are not meant for livestock feed, but fuel that is sent to thatch incinerators and used for “district heating.”

Even excrement from cows, pigs and minks at farms and residue from slaughterhouses are used to produce biofuel.

A farmer told Dong-A, “At Thisted, we produce energy throughout the year from our surroundings at farm fields and households.”

A power plant in the city earned the nickname “energy trinity” due to the efficient production of energy through simultaneous use of waste, wheat thatches and geothermal power. The combined cycle power plant features interlinked facilities of a power plant for waste reuse, thatch incinerator, and equipment for geothermal energy generation.

The idea is to recover all the heat produced from energy sources and use them in their entirety.

This plant produces 107 gigawatt hours of heating and 25 gigawatt hours of electricity per year by incinerating 52,000 tons of waste. The first plant as of 2008 produced enough electricity to power 21,370 households in Korea.

Lars Toft Hansen, chairman of the power plant’s steering committee, said, “Since the ratio of fossil fuel use at the plant is less than one percent, the plant emits very little carbon dioxide, if any.”

“The white substance coming out of the chimney is 100 percent steam.”

All pollutants including carbon dioxide, dioxin and sulfur dioxide are filtered before being emitted, he said.

A thatch incinerator is situated at an energy generation facility that uses garbage. It burns 8,700 tons of thatches per year to produce 30 gigawatt hours of heating per year.

The plant also has Denmark’s first low-temperature geothermal power plant that produces 15 gigawatt hours of heating by installing pipes 1,243 meters underground.

By combining the three methods of power generation, the city has reduced district heating costs one third than when it used oil. “This was possible because we utilized energy resources right before our eyes,” Hansen said. “Farmers sold thatches to earn extra income.”

Thisted produces more than 100 percent of its energy needs through renewable sources, including wind and bio energy. About 80 percent of its energy needs come from 226 wind power turbines installed on the coast and farm fields. The city produces 103 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.

The remaining 20 percent of the city’s energy demand is met by recycling industrial waste or using biofuel produced from household garbage. The city’s 2,500 households and 1,700 companies are all powered by nature. Eighty percent of the city’s heating needs are met with these sources as well.

Though the city produces more than enough electricity to meet its needs, it wastes little or no energy. On the contrary, Thisted is probably more serious about energy conservation than anywhere else.

Students in the city go to school at commute times that vary by school. If one school starts classes at 9 a.m., another nearby starts 20 minutes later. This is to ensure that all students ride one school bus but at different times.