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Helsingør, Denmark: Towards a fossil free municipality

Background information

The municipality of Helsingør, located some 40 km north of the Danish Capital Copenhagen, covers an area of 122 km², and has a total population of around 60,000 inhabitants living in the main city and smaller surrounding villages. The city is a transportation hub with frequent ferry connections to Helsingborg, in Sweden. It is also an important tourist destination with many holiday homes. It used to have several major industries (e.g. a shipyard), but these are now closed, leaving only light industry.

In 2013, Helsingør’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions were 5.6 t CO2 of which 1.6 t CO2, i.e. approximately 29 % of the total emissions, originated from heat consumption. The total CO2 emissions were reduced by around 12 % compared to 2011 and 14 % compared to 2008, respectively. These emission reductions have been achieved thanks to targeted measures implemented by the municipality of Helsingør, mainly through improvements in the public, trade, industry and households sectors – the largest emitters in the region.

A public DH network covers a major part of the urbanized areas and supplies 14,000 households, public buildings, private businesses and others from various productions plants, including waste incineration, gas-fired CHP, and biomass boilers. A regional natural gas utility supplies gas to consumers in the fringes of Helsingør City and in most villages. In the rural areas, the heat demand is mostly met by individual oil-fired furnaces.

Energy Policy Measures

In order to achieve its long-term goals, Helsingør decided to adopt a wide range of specific measures in different areas (public sector, private businesses and private households). However, the measures implemented are limited to the heating sector and do not affect the cooling sector since cooling is not specifically addressed.
To further reduce GHG emissions in Helsingør, the municipality engages in different initiatives and has set up additional climate targets. For example, as a part of the Covenant of Mayors, the municipality as a geographical unit committed to reduce its emissions in 2020 by 20 % compared to 2008 level. Besides these efforts, Helsingør aims at reducing its total per capita emissions below 1 ton of CO2 until 2030 and wants to achieve a minimum share of 30% renewable energies in the energy supply in the same year.

The municipality of Helsingør subscribes to the climate strategy of the Capital Region of Denmark. Moreover, the municipality follows another ambitious long-term goal which is to become entirely CO2-neutral by 2050. The CO2 target is given particular focus as its achievement is quantitatively monitored.

The following figure shows Helsingør’s different climate goals (click to enlarge):

To date, there are no specific, quantified targets in Helsingør for the heating and cooling sector as it is not specified how to reach the region’s long-term goals in each sector. Instead, it is intended to promote various support measures that aim at contributing to these goals. The municipality will support sustainable heating facilities (e.g. waste heat from waste water treatment plants) and innovations generating energy efficiency gains (e.g., insulation of houses). It will also focus on measures intending to expand the district heating network to both existing houses and new buildings. As part of the municipality’s climate agreement with the Danish Society for Nature Conservation to reduce CO2 emissions by 2% each year, many of the municipal buildings have already gone through such a transition and switched from gas and oil boilers to district heating.

Like a number of other Danish municipalities, Helsingør is considering getting aerial thermal imaging of all buildings. Already today, citizens and businesses can borrow thermal cameras at the Helsingør Energy Centre (established by a handful of local craft industries in 2014) that can be used to analyse the buildings’ properties and their insulation.

District Heating System

In the municipality, 35 % of the energy demand for heating is covered by district heating. The main operator of the network is Forsyning Helsingør (FH). The district heating network covers a major part of the urbanized areas and supplies 14,000 households, public buildings, private businesses and others from various productions plants, including waste incineration, gas-fired CHP, and biomass boilers. In 2013 the average emission of GHG was calculated to 70 gCO2/kWh. The gas-fired CHP will from 2018 be replaced by a biomass-fired CHP, resulting in the heat production become almost entirely fossil-free.

The utility has currently no plans offering district cooling for two reasons: (1) the demand is limited, and (2) the current national tax regime is not favouring the use of large heat pumps.

In the course of optimising the district heating network, FH has recently reduced the supply temperature in some parts of the network to less than 65 degrees. In addition, FH is engaged in various energy savings initiatives to achieve a 3.25 % reduction in 2015, and the utility continuously conducts additional feasibility studies to identify energy saving potential within its area.

Article prepared by Gate 21

Photo: Jon Nordstrøm, VisitDenmark