Sustainability | Renewable Energy
Copenhagen, Denmark

pedestrian-only zone in Copenhagen

Renewable Energy in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark has cut CO2 emissions by about 40% compared to 2005 levels, and is on a four-part mission; including achieving 100% renewable energy (100RE). Copenhagen's 2025 Climate Plan includes: achieving 100RE citywide, mandating citywide energy efficiency and waste reduction standards, green transit/ mobility goals; and strategic implementation of the Climate Plan by having the city government lead first in all sustainability goals. Copenhagen's over-arching plan is to become 100% carbon-neutral (achieve net zero emissions) by 2025.

 A future goal for Copenhagen, after becoming carbon-neutral, is to become completely fossil-fuel-free by 2050. The country of Denmark has proposed to ban the sale of new diesel and gas vehicles from 2030 on, in an effort to promote electric vehicles. Copenhagen is expanding the use of and investing in, all types of renewable energy on the path to carbon neutrality.

Today, Denmark has a substantial quantity of renewable energy sources (onshore wind and offshore wind farms, solar PV and solar thermal farms, biomass). Renewable energy (mostly solar thermal and biomass in this case) provides energy for around 100 district heating networks supplying heat to various municipalities in Denmark, helping to make the district heating network in Copenhagen one of the world's largest district heating systems. At present, Copenhagen is powered mostly by renewable energy- mainly wind energy, as well as solar (solar PV, solar thermal), and biomass (including waste-to-energy programs, biogas production, etc...); in addition to some fossil-fuel-sourced energy. 

Anholt offshore wind farm

Energy from offshore wind farms (such as the Anholt wind farm), as well as other renewable energy sources, supplies most of Copenhagen's electricity needs, on particularly windy days. Although the majority of renewable energy in the country of Denmark is sourced from wind, the city of Copenhagen also features extensive solar and biomass (and waste-to-energy, biogas production) energy projects.

Copenhagen International School

Copenhagen International School features the largest solar facade developed for a building in the world, as of 2017. One particularly innovative citywide measure involves the creation of biogas from household sewage throughout Copenhagen.

Copenhagen’s municipal sewage treatment plants separate biomass fluids with the potential to create biogas, from household wastewater. Next, the plants treat this potential renewable energy source; separating potential biogas material sources, and filtering the sewage to remove ammonia, sulfides, and other toxic elements. Then, the biomass sources leftover are converted entirely to a usable gas form (methane) through gasification or anaerobic digestion, and are mixed with natural gas to produce gas for the city. A substantial amount of building heating in Copenhagen uses this renewable energy gas source; in addition to other uses, like heat for cooking.

Copenhagen also has the largest cogeneration system in a city - a heating network where waste heat from power plants is utilized to keep buildings warm with district heating. In addition, water from the city harbor is utilized to cool various buildings in the city when needed; such as office buildings, data centers, hotels, and department stores. Copenhagen requires all new buildings in the city to conform to strict green building standards, in striving for reducing heat and electricity consumption and increasing the energy efficiency of commercial and residential buildings.

Here is a quote from about Copenhagen's waste-to energy program, recycling, and waste management programs:

By putting in place an integrated programme over many years, Copenhagen now sends less than 2 % of [its organic] waste to landfill. Approximately 45% of the waste is recycled and maximum use is made of the residual waste to generate heat for the city’s district heating network. The City of Copenhagen’s new  resource and waste plan ”Circular Copenhagen 2019-2024″, aims to recycle 70% of the city’s waste.

Our waste management problems used to be similar to those of most other major cities: in 1988, over 40 per cent of the city’s waste was sent to landfill and there was concern that incinerating waste within the city boundaries would create dangerous air pollution.

National legislation has now provided an integrated solution – a suite of strategies, policies and investments – that ensure a high rate of recycling and waste to energy.

Waste management is an important element in sustainability as it can help optimise resource consumption through recycling/reuse. Furthermore, waste constitutes a renewable energy source. In this context intelligent, long-term and holistic Waste Management is vital for attaining our overall objectives of creating a Sustainable Community and Green Economy.

The end of life products (waste) can be used as new resources in the form of feedstock for:

  • ’Biological products‘ that can be easily returned to the ’organic cycle‘.
  • ’Technical products‘ that continuously circulate as materials in the industrial cycle.


In 1973, Denmark became the first country in the world to implement an environmental law, and since then, the environment has become one of the main priorities of city planning in the country. Denmark's Energy Policy Agreement was signed into law in 2012, and in the newest version of the Agreement, Denmark has committed to 100% renewable energy for all electricity in the country by 2030, and to becoming completely fossil-fuel free (including all transportation and industry) by 2050.

Sustainable Transit in Copenhagen

electric bus in Copenhagen
electric bus in Copenhagen

Copenhagen already has a substantial green transit infrastructure in place. The city’s rail, airport, and suburbs are connected to the city center via the metro bus system. The bus fleet in Copenhagen is being converted to run using biofuel; and the city of Copenhagen hopes that by 2025, most of the buses used in the city for public transit run on electricity, biodiesel, bioethanol, biogas, are biofuel-electric or natural gas-electric hybrids, or hydrogen fuel cell buses. Denmark is getting 200 hydrogen buses as part of the EU's big push for hydrogen buses, the H2BusEurope program.

Copenhagen also features the Copenhagen metro (a light rail rapid transit system) and the Copenhagen S-train ( a hybrid urban-suburban commuter rail system). Copenhagen harbor has ferries that bring travelers to and from cities in Scandinavia such as Oslo, Norway.

City officials in Copenhagen are trying to expand public and mass transport systems in Copenhagen, and at the same time, promote the use of bicycles as a means of traveling from one place to another. Bikes outnumber cars in Copenhagen, and currently about ½ of all trips within the city to work or universities are done on bicycles. Cycling is already as popular as car use in Copenhagen (as seen in this article in The Guardian), but Copenhagen sees cycling as becoming the dominant form of transit within the city.

The city council of Copenhagen hopes that the majority of travels will be done by foot, public transit, or bicycles by 2025. The city is relatively small, and that’s why it is easy to use a bike to get around. Plus, the city provides safe bike lanes that are separated from road traffic.

Copenhagen has installed green wave traffic lights (traffic lights which are synchronized to maximize the efficiency of bicyclists) and constructed new bike lanes, as well as improved current ones. At present, 35% of people use their bikes to go to work or school in Copenhagen. Visitors to Copenhagen can use one of the free city bikes that have been offered all across Copenhagen in the city's bikeshare program since 1995.

Copenhagen Public-Private Green Initiatives

Copenhagen Harbour in front of the Gemini Residence

Copenhagen has several public-private partnerships that have helped with its sustainable employment and eco-innovation. The city works with universities, organizations, and companies to develop and improve green growth. During the past decade, the city invested in making the Copenhagen harbor area as clean as possible. Cleaning the harbor has allowed Copenhagen to create jobs, generate revenue, and improve local business life. Today, people can swim in the harbor, which has crystal clear clean water.

Aside from the swimming spots in the harbor area, Copenhagen has various beaches, which have also been kept clean and productive for the Greater Copenhagen community. Near the city, beaches include the long white sands of Amager Beach; as well as the popular beaches of Hellerup Strand and Bellevue Strand. A clean harbor, clean beaches, and a thriving community around Copenhagen Harbor are examples of some the benefits that the city has created through its sustainable initiatives.

Part of the success that Copenhagen is experiencing in terms of its green campaigns is due to the fact that city officials engage their residents and local businesses. The city of Copenhagen and private businesses in Copenhagen have teamed up to offer public green programs such as tax incentives, rebates, and discounts when buying hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles; and financial incentives to recycle plastic bottles.

Copenhagen was voted as Europe’s Green Capital in 2014 by the European Environment Commission. The city is known as a world leader when it comes to clean technology, sustainable buildings, and clean businesses. Copenhagen is also dominated by green spaces, open spaces, and parks, such as Tivoli Gardens.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen (from

"Copenhagen [aims to be the] the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025....The Danish capital is moving rapidly toward a zero-carbon future; as it erects wind farms, transforms its citywide heating systems, promotes energy efficiency, and lures more people out of their cars and onto public transportation and bikes." - read more at YaleEnvironment360:

Copenhagen’s Ambitious Push To Be Carbon Neutral by 2025

Please see: The Anholt Offshore Wind Farm- Denmark's Most Powerful Source of Renewable Energy

Please also see: Fossil-fuel free Vaxjo, Sweden
and Oslo, Norway is leading the way in climate goals

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