Electrification and sector coupling achieve CO2 goals at FlexHeat Nordhavn

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

DENMARK: Copenhagen has adopted the ambitious goal of becoming a CO2-neutral city by 2025, and district heating plays an important role. The FlexHeat demonstration plant at Copenhagen’s Nordhavn harbor, which supplies cruise ship terminals with district heating, shows just how far you can get with electrification and sector coupling. It emits 315 fewer tonnes of CO2 annually, compared with the LPG gas-based alternative.

District heating based on ground water

The HOFOR (Greater Copenhagen Utility) district heating in Copenhagen's Nordhavn district was established in 2018 as a demonstration project in EnergyLab Nordhavn, that also supplies three cruise ship terminals and the nearby UNICEF warehouse. The FlexHeat plant comprises a heat pump based on ground water that is retrieved from a 150 m deep well. The saline 10.5°C water is pumped through a heat exchanger with ammonia as a refrigerant. The temperature is raised in two steps via two compressors, and in a heat exchanger, the heat from the condensed ammonia is transferred to the district heating water, which then leads into a storage tank and is pumped out to consumers at the three cruise ship terminals and the UNICEF building. Altogether, the FlexHeat facility has a heating capacity of 1 MW.

FlexHeat facility schematic diagram, Wiebke Meesenburg, DTU Mechanical Engineering

4 MWh virtual battery

One way of creating flexibility in power consumption is through sector coupling, where excess electricity is stored in other energy systems. In the district heating supply, heat pumps with thermal storage can use power when it is plentiful and therefore inexpensive; and avoid using it in periods with peak loads in the system, for example, late afternoon, when most people come home from work and turn on lights and household appliances. The HOFOR (Greater Copenhagen Utility) FlexHeat project in Copenhagen's Nordhavn is a prime example of this type of sector coupling. The thermal energy storage consists of 100 cubic meter tank and corresponds to a "virtual battery" of 4 MWh.

Smart operation ensures flexible power consumption

The FlexHeat plant can operate in six different modes. Intelligent switching between these modes ensures the plant runs as effectively and economically as possible in relation to electricity prices, and the weather forecast. For example, when wind turbines are harvesting at full power, prices are low and the FlexHeat facility can contribute to a higher coefficient of exploitation of green energy.

The challenge is that the purchase of electricity has to be determined a day in advance, before the market closes.

Tore Gad Kjeld, Energy Planner at HOFOR, explains: “Smart-operation of the facility is based on electricity prices and a weather prognosis, where we take into consideration the power consumption viewed historically under similar weather conditions. Along with current operation data, these data are fed into an algorithm, which helps us work out a plan for the next day’s use of electricity. The machine learns a bit every time, getting smarter and smarter because of the data that we feed into the system. This type of machine learning will make us even better in the future at operating the facility according to favorable electricity prices.”

VLT® drives facilitate fast response

An electric boiler regulated by VLT® drives allows for a small boost in temperature, so the plant can quickly provide heat to customers from the storage tank in periods where electricity prices are highest. “VLT® AQUA Drive units can accelerate the heat pump from minimum to maximum performance in just a few minutes, while the electric boiler can be adjusted upward in just a few seconds,” explains Tore Gad Kjeld, energy planner at HOFOR.

Savings on electricity bills and CO2 emissions

How much CO2 can the HOFOR FlexHeat plant at Nordhavn save the environment? Tore Gad Kjeld estimates that the savings today are about 315 tonnes of CO2 annually, seen in relation to LPG gas boilers, which would be the best fossil-fuel alternative to a district heating solution. And, in the future, when the electricity uptake becomes 100% green, the savings can potentially reach up to 430 tonnes of CO2 annually.

VLT® AQUA Drive FC 202

Discover how VLT® AQUA Drive FC 202 controls and protects all types of pumps. This drive is optimized for water and wastewater applications, and comes equipped with an integrated cascade controller.

Learn more about VLT® AQUA Drive

District heating and cooling case studies

  • if (isSmallPicture) { Cactos Oy builds smart energy storage systems; } else if (isBigColumns) { Cactos Oy builds smart energy storage systems } else { Cactos Oy builds smart energy storage systems }
    VACON® inverters and sine-wave filters enable Cactos to grow in Finland and scale to international markets

    Cactos Oy, a Muhos-based startup established in 2021, builds smart energy storage systems. Locally, energy storage systems secure critical power supply and, globally, they enable the efficient use of renewable energy. 

  • if (isSmallPicture) { Rothes CoRDe plant; } else if (isBigColumns) { Rothes CoRDe plant } else { Rothes CoRDe plant }
    DrivePro® Lifecycle Services secure maximum uptime for Rothes CoRDe

    SCOTLAND: The Rothes CoRDe plant, a biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant, ensured maximum uptime thanks to several DrivePro® Lifecycle Services.

  • if (isSmallPicture) { ; } else if (isBigColumns) { } else { }
    From waste to sustainable energy: electricity and heating for the city

    SCOTLAND: In line with the zero-waste objectives of the Scottish government, treatment of non-recyclable urban waste contributes to eliminating landfill whilst generating electricity and heat. Equipped with high-efficiency VACON® NXP drives, the process generates heat enough to supply 25,000 households.

  • if (isSmallPicture) { ; } else if (isBigColumns) { } else { }
    VLT® drives run the world’s smartest district energy system

    Taarnby Municipality within Greater Copenhagen is the first to integrate the production of district cooling and district heating in combination with ground source cooling and chilled water storage in one facility that also exploits surplus heat from a nearby wastewater treatment plant. This symbiosis allows the utility company to provide building owners in the district with competitive and environmentally friendly cooling – while generating more cost-effective heating to the district heating network.

  • if (isSmallPicture) { ; } else if (isBigColumns) { } else { }
    Unique heat recovery for geothermal power using VACON® drives

    AUSTRALIA: In arid outback Australia the borewater pumped up from underground is so hot, it needs cooling before you can drink it. The town of Winton in Queensland has turned this to its advantage by converting heat from the bore water to electricity. A geothermal power station recovers energy during the borewater cooling process then uses it to generate power for the local community, with the help of VACON®drives.

  • if (isSmallPicture) { Zygfryd Glaeser, Professor in Theology at the University of Opole in front of solar panels; } else if (isBigColumns) { Zygfryd Glaeser, Professor in Theology at the University of Opole in front of solar panels } else { Zygfryd Glaeser, Professor in Theology at the University of Opole in front of solar panels }
    Kneipp-Institute leads the way in storing renewable energy

    An institute in Kamień Śląski, Poland, is pioneering climate neutral energy consumption. Danfoss helps store electricity from the sun. Savings on electricity bill and CO2 emissions are the main drivers.