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CSP Heathens North Europe

CSP Heathens North Europe

Brønderslev, a Danish municipality with a population of 12,500, is setting up a multi-purpose renewable heat plant for their district heating network

It’s not gas, nor oil, its CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) that will heathen a small village in Denmark, North Europe, during the cold winters.

Denmark is a frontier for renewable energies and smart energy systems. Let’s have a look at the advantages of CSP for the region because normally we expect CSP in Southern parts of the world. Don’t we?


Denmark has a long-term vision which is also shared at policy level for the energy system and that makes the huge difference with many other countries. The CSP technology works also with low irradiation values but, of course, with a much lower yield compared with southern countries. However, what is important is the average ‘solar fraction’. 

So far, local utility Brønderslev Forsyning – a small municipality in Denmark – has been operating seven gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plants and two gas boilers to produce 130 GWh of heat each year. In the future, most of the yearly district heating demand is planned to be met by a new Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) unit which receives its energy from two wood chip boilers with a total capacity of 17 MW and 3 MW el and from a 16.6 MW parabolic trough collector field with a mirror area of 27,000 m².

This is the first large-scale system in the world to demonstrate how CSP with an integrated energy system design can optimize efficiency of ORC even in areas with less sunshine.

Waste Heat

The CSP plant consists of 40 rows of 125m parabolic trough loops with an aperture area of 26,929m2. The parabolic troughs (U-shaped mirrors) collect the suns’ rays and reflect them onto a receiver pipe wherein a fluid is heated up to 330°C. This high temperature is able to drive an electric turbine to produce electricity, but the flexibility of the system also allows production of lower temperatures for district heating purposes. To maximize yield of energy, waste heat is utilized and sent to the district heating circuit whereas electrical power is generated at peak price periods.

CSP optimized for cold winters

The parabolic troughs are optimized for Nordic climate conditions to reliably produce energy even during average wind speed of 15 m/s. Moreover, the receiver pipe is surrounded by a special glass vacuum tube that has a lower loss of production compared to other constructions.This solution have been tested and verified in a commercial setting in Denmark, where CSP in combination with flat panels today provides hot water generation for district heating purposes.


To retain flexibility throughout the year, Brønderslev Forsyning has decided to install two smaller boilers (10 MW each) instead of a large one. And the high cost of energy in Denmark has resulted in a thorough optimisation of boiler and flue gas processes.
For example, the system has three heat pumps driven primarily by cooling energy from the fuel gases. In total, these pumps add more than 2 MWth to heat output and increase the overall energy efficiency of the biomass power plant to a stunning 118 % (based on direct calculation) – without the input from the CSP field.
The innovative design of a system producing solar-biomass heat and electricity was supported by the Danish government´s Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program.

Combined CSP in Arizona

In 2006, APS installed a solar thermal system that cools during the summer and heats during the winter. Dr. Peter Johnston was the lead. This system was installed at Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona.


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