Vorupør CHP plant is a small decentralized power plant producing heat and energy to supply the village of Vorupør on the west coast of Thy. In Danish this type of CHP plant is termed “open field plants” because they are usually placed on an open field close to the often small community they supply. The idea of a CHP plant in Vorupør was fostered by a group of citizens who were looking for a low cost, reliable and environmentally friendly heating supply.
- Guided tours: Yes
- Open: By appointment
- Booking: 2 work days prior to visit
- Participants: By appointment
- Admittance fee: None
- Parking: Yes
- Public transportation: Busstop at the church in Vorupør 1 km from the plant
- Toilet: Yes
- Language: English / Danish.
was quickly adopted by the rest of the community and in May 1995 the CHP plant in Vorupør opened.
After four years Vorupør CHP plant conducted a subscription campaign in collaboration with the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy and the regional natural gas supplier Naturgas Midt Nord. The result was 30 new subscribers and today around 90 % of all households in Vorupør are connected to the district heating grid.
In Denmark as a whole around 62 % of all households are heated by district heating. With oil prices going up district heating remains a cheaper alternative for household heating, and even though periods of stable or even declining district heating prices alternate with periods of price increase the CHP plant in Vorupør continues to attract new shareholders. 347 users are currently subscribing to district heating from Vorupør CHP.
The plant is fired by natural gas and electricity from wind turbines when overproduction from the turbines makes electricity cheaper than gas. Power is transformed to heat in a 1 MW immersion heater which was installed at the plant in 2012. Consumers in Vorupør enjoy considerable greener energy than before the CHP plant was established. The scrapping of 250 oil burners has brought Co2 emissions down with 4200 tons per year and So2 emissions down with 7700 kg per year.
The tall chimney and the building itself has been decorated by local artist Bjørn Søndergård.
Vorupør CHP is powered by two natural gas fueled engines from the Austrian manufacturer Jenbacher each producing 1.1 MW heat and 0.736 MW power. The two powerful engines make so much noise that hearing protection is required when they are in operation. The engines are attached to flue gas cleaners that extract energy from the flue gas developed in the engine. The flue gas is 500 degrees hot when it enters the flue gas cleaner and a mere 50 degrees when it exits the chimney as steam.
In 2005 the two Jenbacher engines were shipped back to the factory of origin in Austria for a thorough renovation and returned to Vorupør CHP even more powerful, saving the plant DKK 200.000 on gas purchase.
From Wind Power to Heat with the Largest Electric Boiler in Town
On March 30th 2012 the mayor of Thisted Municipality Lene Kjeldgaard Jensen inaugurated a new electric boiler at Vorupør CHP plant. The plant expects to cover its investment of DKK 1 million in about five years securing cheap and green energy for district heating consumers in Vorupør.The electric boiler functions like an enormous emission heater heating up the water by cheap surplus electricity from wind turbines. The power plant buys cheap surplus power during extra windy periods when the turbines produce more power than is actually consumed, thus skipping natural gas for longer or shorter periods of time. The electric boiler is also part of an attempt to stabilize the power grid, adjusting the effect of the boiler to compensate for irregularities in the power grid. The process is fully automated and the power grid is under constant surveillance in order to connect or disconnect the electric boiler according to rise or decline in voltage and frequency in the grid. The 400 volt low-voltage boiler is adjustable in 60 stages and consists of four modules of 255 kW each. It was manufactured in Sweden by Värmbaronen. With the electric boiler Vorupør CHP plant takes a leading position in the development of the energy supply of the future, where electric boilers can play an important part for decentralized smart grids producing and consuming energy locally. Energy from the wind is stored as heat in electric boilers making sure surplus power from Danish wind turbines is not sold abroad at low cost or even at a loss.
Running a power plant means constantly being on the lookout for ways to optimize energy output. And even though the district heating network of Vorupør CHP plant is relatively new, technicians are constantly on the lookout for wear and tear on main pipes and service-pipes. So when it turned out the service-pipes leading water from the water main in the road into the households were too wide action was taken immediately. Pressure in the 32 mm wide pipes was too low resulting in loss of heat in water going into the house. The solution was to insert a thinner 20 mm pipeline into the existing pipes tripling the throughput rate. Higher flow temperatures mean better use of the energy in the consumer household resulting in lower production costs and lower prices.
Reducing heat loss was also the reason for re-insulating the roofs of the two accumulation tanks in 2004. The result was immediately measurable in the form of reduction in heat loss. Hot water is produced to the accumulation tanks and from there pumped to the consumers by two pumps. The larger pump operates during winter, the smaller during summer to save energy.
The make-up water from the public water works have certain properties which are destructive to the district heating system. Oxygen and minerals in the water may cause corrosion in pipes and installations which is why the water is led through a water treatment plant where it is deoxidized and demineralized. The power plant also produces its own nitrogen to form a sort of lid in the accumulation tanks to prevent ambient air corroding the tanks.
Power Produced and Consumed Locally
At Vorupør CHP plant the annual electricity production is equivalent to the annual consumption of energy in 1.100 households. Approximately 40 % of the natural gas is turned into power while the rest becomes heating. Originally the electricity produced in Vorupør was transmitted to a transformer substation in Sjørring some 16 km away. From here the local energy agency Thy-Mors Energi shipped the electricity back to consumers in Vorupør, losing a huge amount of power on the way. To reduce loss of energy the electricity grid in Vorupør was modernized in 2004 resulting in power being produced and consumed locally.
A Management Table
In conjunction with the annual statement Vorupør CHP plant provides consumers with a management table as a tool for monitoring monthly heat consumption. The table has a preprinting of the expected annual consumption distributed on each month of the year making it easy for consumers to compare current consumption with that of last year. This may result in detecting irregularities like a defective valve or leaks in the system before an unexpectedly large heating bill is dropped through the letterbox. Since 2007 remote controlled units for reading the meters have been installed as a service to the consumers. Electronic controllers enable remote monitoring and control of the district heating system and allow the plant to conduct remote controlled readings of meters, which happens every month, thus aiding the plant in detecting defective pipes and installations.
Community Owned Energy Supply
Ever since the upstart Vorupør CHP plant has had many foreign visitors who are all impressed with the high utilization rates of the energy that feeds the engines. Electricity and heat is produced at a utilization rate of 99 % which places the two Jenbacher engines among the highest performing engines of their kind in Denmark. Visitors are also impressed with the Danish model for small, decentralized consumer owned district heating and CHP plants as opposed to large state or privately owned power companies. The co-operative movement is deeply rooted in Danish culture, and while co-operative dairies and stores are on the decline, community owned energy supply is advancing.
Each year district heating plants in Denmark submit their price lists to the Danish Energy Regulatory Authority. According to the price list of December 2012, district heating from Vorupør CHP plant costs DKK 620 per MWh VAT included. This means an annual cost of DKK 15.725 for heating in a standard flat of 75 m2 consuming 15 MWh per year, and an annual cost of DKK 19.408 for heating in a standard single-family house consuming 18.1 MWh per year.
The above mentioned prices are standard prices and in order to calculate the actual price for heating it is necessary to consider the actual heat consumption of a given family and the fixed costs of for example subscription.
For more Danish district heating prices see www.energitilsynet.dk
- Built in 1995
- 2004 the accumulation tanks are re-insulated
- 2005 the two Jenbacher engines are renovated at the factory in Austria
- 2.5 MW natural gas boiler,
- Two natural gas boilers, Jenbacher, 1.1 MW heat and 0.736 MW electricity, with flue gas cleaners
- 1 MW emission heater module, Värmbaronen
- Two 300 m3 accumulation tanks.