Bioenergy technology

At scale, bioenergy plants can burn millions of tonnes of biomass to provide electricity and heat for widespread use. Find out how bioenergy is produced in heat and power plants and how we make sure it’s sustainable.

How do combined heat and power plants work? 

Heat and power plants burn fuel to create high-pressure steam to rotate turbines that generate electricity. The remaining heat in the steam is then used to heat water for district heating. 

Generating heat and power in combination means that more of the fuel’s energy content is released – up to 89 % at the high-tech Avedøre plant near Copenhagen. This efficiency makes power stations more cost-effective by using less fuel to generate an amount of energy.  

Heat and power plants can run on fossil fuels or on sustainable biomass.
Avedøre heat and power plant
Aerial view of the Avedøre heat and power plant near Copenhagen

What are biomass, bioenergy, and biofuels?  

Biomass is organic matter like wood chips and wood pellets left over from forestry, straw, or agricultural and food waste. Biomass can be converted into energy using different biomass conversion technologies. At Ørsted, we use combustion – we burn straw, wood chips, and wood pellets to create energy and heat.  

Other biomass conversion technologies can produce biofuels which are used for transportation. Ørsted has no activities within this area. 

The energy we create from biomass is called bioenergy. Bioenergy is both renewable and carbon neutral if managed properly and responsibly. Unlike fossil fuels, the organic materials used to generate bioenergy can be replaced. New biomass – such as newly planted trees – takes in CO2 as it grows, which is released when it’s burned to make bioenergy. Because no carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere other than what the trees and plants used when growing, the process is carbon neutral. 

How do we make sure our bioenergy production is sustainable?  

At Ørsted, we carry out continuous and extensive work to guarantee and document that the biomass we use in our heat and power production is sustainable. We’ve developed a number of sustainability criteria which are in line with the Danish industry agreement on sustainable biomass and with Danish legislation. 

Watch the video to find out how Ørsted works with foresters to ensure sustainable forestry practices

The technological innovations improving our heat and power plants

We use drones to inspect our power stations’ tall smokestacks and boiler rooms, to perform minor repair jobs, and to flush mussels back to sea from the cooling water channels.  

We’re also experimenting with ‘smart glasses’, which introduce a layer of computer-generated data to what the wearer sees.  

Find out more about our smart plants and how we’re making them more efficient