Besides being a less expensive form of heating than oil and gas heating solutions, the district heating originating from Vestforbrænding is also environmentally less damaging. Every year the company produces district heating corresponding to approximately 75,000 houses’ consumption. Energy based on waste saves the environment the CO2 emissions it would cost to produce the same amount by coal, oil or natural gas. Since district heating from Vestforbrænding is both cheaper and greener than the oil or gas based heating systems present in the areas, where Vestforbrænding is converting to district heating, it has not been necessary to take advantage of the so-called ‘obligation to connect’ to the grid. The company does not wish to force anyone, and their business takes place in 100% commercial terms.
Vestforbrænding strives to make the waste as CO2 neutral as possible, which can be partly realized by sorting out the plastic from the waste. If this is to succeed, sorting at source at citizens and companies is crucial. At the same time sorting at source makes it possible to increase the amount of reclaimable materials such as glass, paper and metal for bio gasification. This means that the future will see a possibility of the produced gas being used as a supplement for the natural gas or as fuel in the transportation sector. If these plans are to become a reality, and the district heating network is to be expanded, large companies must show the way, according to Per Wulff. One example is the local hospital Herlev Hospital, which uses 25% more energy than needed. This means that the hospital uses the double effect in the winter period than what is needed because the building is operating so poorly energy efficiently-wise, and this has led to an energy efficiency project for the hospital. However, according to Torben Topp, district heating manger, energy savings are not the only goal in itself; Vestforbrænding would rather see even more people benefitting from the heat. Utilization of the heat has meant a still growing income for the company and thus a lower bill to pay for waste handling than if the heat had not been utilized and would have to be transferred to the cooling towers at the plant and wasted. PRICES AND CO2 EMISSIONS The heat distribution can be illustrated like this. Half of the heat produced at Vestforbrænding is sent out in its own grid (green) the rest of the production is sent to the transmission companies VEKS (blue) and CTR (red), both members of DBDH as well, where it is further distributed to the consumers. The low heat prices are to the advantage of the consumers, and Vestforbrænding has already announced a price fall of 10% next year, according to Wulff. Torben Topp adds that the company has a price guarantee that says that it will be at least 5% cheaper than natural gas over a three-year period (typically 10-20%).
One of the guiding principles of waste management in Denmark and the rest of Europe is the "waste hierarchy" based on the following priorities:
1. Minimization and prevention of waste arising 2. Reuse and recycling of resources contained in waste 3. Recovery with maximum energy utilization (power and heating) 4. Waste landfill
Vestforbrænding is working in many fields to minimise waste arising and develop solutions causing the least possible environmental impacts. But their main task is to ensure that as much waste as possible is recycled. Thanks to recycling they achieve the best utilisation of resources contained in waste. When it is not beneficial from an environmental and socio- economic point of view to recycle waste it is incinerated, making sure that residues from the incineration process do not cause environmental problems. Energy from waste incineration is used for CO2-neutral generation of power and heat, which is sold and distributed. Waste that cannot be recycled and is unsuitable for incineration is sent to landfill. Landfill is the least preferred option, since it does not utilise resources in waste. In addition, landfilled waste can cause contamination of soil and groundwater.
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