Denmark is building a big trash-burning power plant that is also a ski slope

Anyone who thinks skiing is rubbish will have their opinion confirmed in Denmark, where five municipalities near Copenhagen have clubbed together to replace an old waste incinerator with a gigantic new one that will burn a greater quantity of trash, heat homes, generate electricity, and provide winter fun.

Under construction now and due for completion in 2017, the Amager Bakke plant replaces a 45-year-old incinerator. It will burn around 400,000 tonnes of waste a year and convert that to electricity for 50,000 households and district heating for 120,000 households.

But the icing on the cake is that, instead of being a dreary industrial behemoth, this 80m-high structure, which covers an area of 41,000 sq m, will bring a taste of the Alps to an otherwise height-challenged Copenhagen.

Brainchild of Danish and New York architectural practice BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), the plant will have more than 500m of year-round ski runs for all abilities, from green circle to black diamond. 

Clad entirely in stacked aluminium bricks, the facility will have planted areas and a hiking trail, so skiers and walkers will find it easy to forget that they are cavorting on a furnace that is burning 70 tonnes of waste an hour.

A rendition of the Amager Bakke plant provided by technology firm Tekla, which is providing building information modelling for the project (Tekla)

A further BIG touch, however, won’t allow them to forget completely: the designers proposed a modification to the smokestack enabling it to puff out a single smoke ring every time a tonne of carbon dioxide is produced. This, BIG says, will be a "gentle reminder of the impact of consumption".

According to the engineering firm supplying the plant’s combustion system, Babcock & Wilcox Vølund, the new plant will be far less polluting than the old one, reducing sulphur emissions by 99.5%, and cutting mono-nitrogen oxide emissions to a tenth of former output.

The client for the scheme is an agency called Amager Ressourcecenter. Its project manager Lars Juel Rasmussen said it will be a new landmark for Copenhagen.

"The plant stands out in terms of environmental considerations, energy production, and its working environment," he said in a statement supplied by Babcock & Wilcox Vølund. "It is also located near the airport and just five kilometres from Copenhagen’s Town Hall square, so we’re not just talking about an industrial installation, but a landmark of the Danish capital."

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  1. Why oh why do we not do this in England!
    We have too little space to keep burying our rubbish
    And the Danes prove that it can be used as a source of fuel.
    They reduce the impact of the waste they produce to heat and power local homes.

  2. The reason that we don’t do this is because we are managed by people with no vision, who are self-centred, self promoting, obsessed with windmills and other nonesense and add to that the ‘Nimbys’ who undestand even less.

  3. To be fair you have to give Bjarke Ingels a round of applause. One thing for sure he does not lack is ambition. Love the smoke screen idea!

    Coming originally from hilly North Wales and now being based in Copenhagen one thing I miss is the mountains over here! So let’s see if an artificial ski mountain will make up for that :)

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