Copenhagen builds carbon signaling waste-to-power plant

According to Quartz, the prototype for the smoke stack has evolved since its original rendering in 2011. The smoke stack will act as a ‘chimney’ erected atop the plant. Pic credit: BIG architects

In Europe, a waste-treatment plant in Denmark named ‘Amager Bakke’ is under construction along Copenhagen’s longest yacht harbour.

The plant is poised to become the first steam generator to puff out a ring for every ton of CO2 emitted by the plant.

Digital news agency Quartz describes the steam ring generator as a “SOS smoke-signal for the environment”.

The plant forms part of Copenhagen’s strategy to become the first carbon-neutral city worldwide.

The project is being designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, an international architectural firm, and will be developed in conjunction with scientists from aerospace company Peter Madsen Raketmadsens Rumlaboratorium (Racket-Madsen Space Lab) and the Danish Technical University.

Funding for the project is boosted by Kickstarter, reported to be the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.

Crowdsourced funds generated for the project will be put toward a final prototype and testing – before the the smoke stack (dubbed the BIG Vortex) goes into development.

Carbon footprint in sky

The two lead architects on the project, Bjarke Ingels and Jacob Lange, said: “By sweeping nothing under the carpet, but rather projecting our carbon footprint onto the Copenhagen sky, we provide every single citizen intuitive information to help them inform the decisions they make for their lives and for the city that they want to live in.”

Commenting on the smoke stack’s previously developed prototypes, the architects add: “We have already successfully tested two previous prototypes in August of 2014 and April of 2015 to create a steam ring that was sized 1 to 10 of the final desired effect. We financed these first two tests ourselves. These prototypes although successful have also had their fair share of challenges.

“By scaling the next prototype up to one third of the final size – now measuring five meters in height and 2.5 meter in diameter – we will encounter new challenges but are very optimistic that these too will be overcome.”

Copenhagen’s carbon neutral efforts

Apart from the waste-treatment plant, Copenhagen has also constructed a 20-turbine wind farm, implemented an 180% import tax on cars and mandatory green roof policy for urban planning, as well as creating awareness around carbon-fuelling consumer products.

The Amager Bakke waste treatment plant is scheduled to open in 2017.