A worker standing on top of a power plant wearing safety gear.


Burning organic matter instead of coal for Danish heating and backup power

How it works

We use wood residues from sustainable forestry

Our heat and power generating plants play a significant role in supplying the Danish district heating and electricity grids. Our plants allow for great flexibility of supply depending on current needs and do so at a competitive price. 

In the past, the plants ran on various fossil fuels, including large amounts of coal. Today, we’ve almost entirely converted them to operate without coal, with sustainable biomass providing the main low-carbon alternative to the heavily polluting fossil fuel, and natural gas being used in some plants.  

Our biomass is primarily wood pellets and wood chips derived from wood residues from sustainable forestry. 

As long as biomass is sustainably sourced, it’s considered a CO2-neutral fuel because it emits the same amount of CO2 from burning as it absorbs during growth. Energy generated by using biomass is called bioenergy. 

Supply chain for sustainable wood-based biomass


From carbon-heavy to carbon-neutral to carbon-negative

We’ve reduced the coal consumption in our heat and power production by 91 % since 2006 by replacing it with biomass, which is carbon-neutral. By 2024, we’ll have fully phased out the use of coal in our operations*. This’ll mark the end of a chapter in our green transformation story

Reducing our coal consumption

Capturing carbon

Starting in 2025, we’ll capture carbon from our Avedøre and Asnæs power stations. The captured carbon will then be sailed to Norway where it’ll be stored in a reservoir in the North Sea.  

By capturing carbon from biogenic sources, we will achieve negative emissions.

Find out more about our carbon capture project and how it works 

The future of bioenergy

While our heat and power plants continue to play an important role in our low-carbon energy business, building new ones is not part of our strategy for the future. 

With the increasing green electrification of Denmark’s energy system, the role of our heat and power plants is primarily to produce heating for the Danish district heating system and backup power for the Danish electricity grid. 

In future, cost-competitive alternatives to heat and power plants are expected to be technologies like: 

Over time, they can replace and supplement a substantial part of the sustainable biomass in Danish district heating. 


Key benefits of bioenergy

Our projects

Ørsted’s heat and power plants

We operate our seven large-scale combined heat and power (CHP) plants, one heat plant, and one peak load power plant as efficiently as possible, minimising environmental impacts.

See all our heat and power plants, their capacity, the fuels they run on, and more


Frequently asked questions about bioenergy

  • What kind of sustainable biomass does Ørsted use?
    Our wood pellets and wood chips are made from wood residues from sustainably managed production forests. The wood residues are of such low quality that they can’t practically be used to make buildings, furniture, or floors. Wood waste mainly consists of treetops, branches, and sawdust from sawmills as well as discarded trunks that are diseased. The more wood used to make furniture and buildings, the more wood residues will be available to replace coal and gas for power generation and district heating in our CHP plants.
  • How does Ørsted’s use of sustainable biomass affect the forests’ condition?
    The owners of sustainable production forests seek to produce wood as efficiently as possible. Production forests are regularly thinned to remove low-quality wood. Branches and treetops are also cut off and left on the forest floor when trees are felled and taken to sawmills. This leaves considerable volumes of wood residues which we can use to produce green energy. 
    Our activities have no negative effects on the number of trees, the size of the forests, or the forests’ health. We only buy wood pellets and wood chips from suppliers offering biomass solely sourced from forest areas where there is ongoing reforestation, and where the ecosystem and biodiversity are protected. To ensure that our suppliers comply with our sustainability requirements, we’ve implemented the Sustainable Biomass Programme (SBP) certification system, under which independent third-party auditors monitor and certify that the suppliers fulfil our sustainability requirements.
  • What does Ørsted do to ensure that our biomass is sustainable?
    Our biomass is certified and meets the requirements of the Danish industry agreement and of Danish legislation, and our suppliers are controlled by an independent third party. Strict requirements for sustainable wooden biomass are now implemented by law. This applies to the EU Renewable Energy Directive and the Danish legal requirements for sustainable biomass. 
    The Danish requirements, which a broad majority in the Danish Parliament agreed on in 2020, are even stricter than the EU requirements. Among other things, they require forests to grow, that carbon stocks as a minimum are maintained or increased over time, taking biodiversity into account, and no harvesting from protected natural areas. The biomass that Ørsted uses lives up to these legal requirements. 
  • How can cutting down and burning trees be good for the environment?
    It’s a myth that using wood residues to generate energy means felling the forests. However, deforestation is a real and valid concern. Wood and forests are an important part of the solution to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Therefore, it’s crucial that the forests are managed properly and sustainably. Our wood pellets and wood chips are sourced from sustainably managed production forests where the trees are constantly replanted, the ecosystem is maintained, and biodiversity is protected.
  • Why is sustainable biomass a better alternative to coal when burning wood also releases carbon dioxide?
    It’s true that burning wood residues to generate heat and power leads to carbon emissions. But trees are part of a natural cycle, which means that at some point they’ll either rot or be burnt and release carbon dioxide, which will then be absorbed by new trees. Coal and gas, on the other hand, store a lot of carbon dioxide underground, and we should leave that in place. Therefore, the impact on the climate is much smaller when we use wood residues instead of coal and gas.

Carbon capture and storage

Starting in 2025, we’ll capture carbon from our Avedøre and Asnæs power stations and store it in a reservoir in the North Sea.

Our heat and power plants

We currently operate seven combined heat and power plants in Denmark, along with one heat plant and one peak load power plant.

Bioenergy technology

Find out how we create bioenergy, how combined heat and power plants work, and which innovative technologies we’re using.

Renescience – waste to energy

Using an enzyme-based technology called Renescience, we’re turning unsorted household waste into energy at our facility in the UK. 

* Our target is to phase out coal before 2025. The Danish authorities have ordered us to continue and resume the operation of three of our power station units which use coal and oil until 31 August 2024.