Waste-to-Power: Skiing on Green Energy in Denmark

Outdoor living just got more radical for Danish skiers and snowboarders, or any thrill-seeking tourist, for that matter, who descends on Copenhagen in 2017. Denmark is striving to become the world’s first zero-carbon city by 2025, and in its attempt to reach that goal the land of “Lego” is putting its innovation skills to good use. Copenhagen’s Amager Bakke waste-to-power incinerator plant is scheduled to open in December. It’s designed to burn 400,000 tons of waste annually, creating enough clean energy to power 60,000 homes. But here’s where Denmark’s flair for creative architecture and design comes into play. The waste-to-power incinerator has a sloping roof that doubles as a year-round ski track.


The Amager Bakke plant looks like a building inspired by a utopian vision of the future. Curved and wrapped in aluminum, the high-efficiency waste-to-energy plant looks more like a Frank Gehry design than the sort of monolithic, smokestack-like structure commonly associated with incinerators. Having the roof of the plant function as a ski track, one that features beginner, intermediate and expert runs, is progressive even for a city that’s long set the standard for progressive urban planning.


Denmark is a relatively flat country, and unlike other Nordic countries, it doesn’t receive much snow. To make a publicly owned incinerator plant an outdoor recreation destination, and at the same time create a building that powers 60,000 homes with clean energy, is a revolutionary architectural concept. Shakespeare got it wrong. Nothing is rotten in the state of Denmark after all.


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