COP15 travelogue - Part 1

As we’ve discovered to our chagrin at COP15, we were amazingly naïve to think we’d get time to write a daily post! An entire week has shot past and we have been on the go from morning to night.

First of all, many thanks to our readers and those who’ve taken the time to comment, your time is appreciated and your feedback is most welcome. Under normal circumstances, I’d reply to your individual comments, but this will have to do for now.

So far we start our days with a hearty breakfast at our hotel along with an apple and a banana to go that get us through until dinner time. We then head out into the winter cold to catch the bus and Metro to the Bella Center and proceed from there.

On the right, the Metro, near the Bella Center. In the foreground you can see the dedicated, curbed bicycle path, common throughout the city.

On the right, the Metro, near the Bella Center. In the foreground you can see the dedicated, curbed bicycle path, common throughout the city.

The days are long and becoming ever more crowded with people. Seriously.

The crowds are growing larger at COP 15 in the Bella Center

The crowds are growing larger at COP 15 in the Bella Center

Wednesday, December 9th

While the delegates negotiate on, or don’t, the main event for us was an Energy Tour to Copenhagen’s new Kongens Nytorv District Cooling Project in the city, and to the Avedøre Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant on the coast.

The city is retooling an old power plant in the heart of the medieval downtown area known as Kongens Nytorv to provide district cooling to several major buildings including a large department store, a banking facility, and a newspaper company, among the many end users they have signed up for the project. (Public/private partnerships.) This area is among the most expensive real estate in Denmark.

Not only will these facilities have “central” air conditioning through district cooling, but they have each reclaimed major commercial square footage (meterage?) which they’re able to now use as income-producing space vs. mechanical facilities housing. For example the bank is using the reclaimed space for more data processing equipment, allowing them to maintain their valuable data in-house. The newspaper company has converted its rooftop from a mechanical jungle into a roof-top café and lounge area for its employees. These are basic no-brainer applications that we should be using everywhere to maximize our use of every molecule of energy we can, and enjoy the side benefits that come from the reclaimed space.

From there our bus took us on a 20 or 30 minute ride to the south coast to the Avedøre Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant owned by DONG (Danish Oil and Natural Gas – Dansk Olie og Naturgas A/S) Energy. After a bitterly cold wait standing in line in the dark (late afternoon) outside the security gates, our tour was finally allowed into the facility after the guards individually typed in our names from our UNFCCC security badges. Believe me, it’s not much fun standing outside with the wind howling in off the sea, so that was a little hitch in the gitalong. However, we appreciate their need for caution (in case any of us get left behind!), and we carry on…

We don hardhats for the Avedore CHP plant tour.

We don hardhats for the Avedore CHP plant tour.

We don hardhats, and get a guided tour of the power plants. My Ontario Hydro Dad would have loved it!

Because it was night, we weren’t able to get photos of the facility. The corporate website has a brief video here if you are interested in seeing the power plants.

It is said that this is one of the most energy-efficient power plants in the world because they capture the heat created by the electricity-producing process and distribute it to the homes and businesses of Copenhagen. Both power plants are quite new, one being built in 1990 and the other in 2001 – they are very modern and impressive facilities.

The power plants at this site are able to use a variety of fuels depending on whatever is the most cost-efficient at the time in the energy markets. These include coal, oil, gas, wood pellets and straw. The later is gathered by the farmers and would otherwise lay rotting in the fields until new crops are planted. There are efforts underway to provide subsidies to farmers for their straw to make it more attractive for them to collect the straw for energy use.

From DONG Energy’s own website, here is a recap on the two power plants:

  • The overall production capacity of the two Avedøre Power Station units is 810 Megawatts of electricity and 900 Megawatts of heat.
  • Avedøre Power Station’s Unit 1 primarily uses coal, while Avedøre Power Station’s Unit 2 can use a wide variety of fuels: natural gas, oil, straw and wood pellets.
  • Avedøre Power Station’s Unit 2 has facilities consisting of several parts that, when combined, can make record-high use of the energy in the fuels. By simultaneously generating heat and electricity, Avedøre Power Station’s Unit 2 utilises as much as 94 % of the energy in the fuels and has an electrical efficiency of 49%. An achievement that makes the unit one of the most efficient in the world.

It’s been another long but interesting day in Copenhagen. I’ll continue my travelogue in another post …

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