Forget Disney World, this is the happiest place on Earth. In Copenhagen, Denmark, a one-third mile ski course has been installed atop what is possibly the world’s greenest power plant. The whimsical destination even features ski lifts on the outside so visitors can see the inner workings of how the city’s trash is transformed into clean electricity and heating for over 200,000 homes.
Copenhill, a unique waste-to-power plant, opened in 2017 under the name Amager Bakke (Amager for the island Copenhagen is on, and Bakke, the Danish word for “hill”). Eight years ago, architect Bjarke Ingels came up with the idea. Today, his ambition to design a power plant structure that incorporates mountain sports into its very nature has been realized.
As GoodNewsNetwork reports, the green power plant is a hybrid between a building and a landscape. The huge, glass mirrored structure is covered with planters covering the façade in a checkerboard pattern. One day, it might even give way to the illusion of a green mountain.
“It is the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world,” said Ingles. “It is a crystal clear example of ‘Hedonistic Sustainability’ (a phrase he coined because) a sustainable city is not only better for the environment—it is also more enjoyable for the lives of its citizens.”
According to the architect, 97 percent of city residents get their heating as a byproduct of energy production from an integrated system where the heating, electricity, and waste disposal are combined into a single process. “If Copenhagen can do it, why can’t we?” he asks.
While there are no hills on the island city, residents can ski and snowboard locally. At the same time, they can “ooh” and “aww” over the best views ever seen of the harbor. Because snow cover in winter can be rare, the designers installed a specially-coated “plastic grass” that provides ideal friction for downhill winter sports.
The power plant is now a ski and snowboarding destination for 600,000+ skiers who previously had to travel to practice carving their turns. In the “extraordinary” destination, visitors can relax in the restaurant and bar at the highest point of the building. If they don’t feel like skiing, they can meander on the steep hiking and running trails. At the top of the power plant is the tallest climbing wall in the world. Only certified climbers may ascend the 270-feet high (85 meters) climbing wall, which is designed with overhangs and ledges of white.
The $660 million power plant might have cost a pretty penny, but it can process up to 440,000 tons of waste each year using turbines, steam, and furnaces. Furthermore, the electricity it produces can heat 160,000 homes and provide electric power to another 60,000. Finally, the impressive facility can be handled by just two engineers.
In the future, the developers hope to see 300,000 visitors enjoying the experience of Copenhill each year. The ski slope costs $22 an hour or visitors can invest in a full season pass for $366.
Said professional skier Nikolaj Vang,
“I’ve been skiing for 35 years, and I was very surprised and pleased that the coating had the perfect friction. I had feared that one would either get too little or too much slip, but I think the coating is perfect for all levels.”
Based on this development, Denmark is making swift progress toward its goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025.