Opinion: The Swedes points the way to use surplus heat

A tax on recycling from district heating plants makes it costly for manufacturers to be environmentally friendly. Politicians should glance at Sweden where a good solution has been found.

Read the original article in Danish here: https://finans.dk/debat/ECE11940043/svenskerne-viser-vejen-for-brug-af-overskudsvarme/?ctxref=ext 


The parties of the Danish parliament recently passed a bill that imposes a tax on recycling of surplus heat and, not least, lets the state regulate the price of it. This means that heat that has already been produced to operate e.g. data centers, will not be recycled to heat people’s homes because it costs producers extra to be environmentally friendly. That’s not very smart.

This bill was passed despite criticism from several sides, including former business minister and current chairman of the trade association, Synergi, Bendt Bendtsen, who argued in Børsen that it might look good for the state’s revenue, but black in the green accounts. According to Bendtsen, politicians should lift their glaze from pure tax thinking and also look at other aspects, including the green transition.

Bendtsen is right. Politicians should not just concentrate on the debate here at home. They should advantageously direct their gaze at Stockholm. Here, the public, in collaboration with heat producers, has solved the challenge of reusing surplus heat to heat houses. And politicians don’t even have to regulate the price – so does the market itself. In Sweden, Stockholm Exergi has set up Öppen Fjärrvärme – a platform that conveys sales of surplus heat from industry to Swedish house owners. In Interxion’s large data centers located on the outskirts of Stockholm, we have installed heat exchangers that ensure that surplus heat from our servers accesses the district heating network and helps to heat no fewer than 10,000 households.

Interxion also operates data centers in Denmark. But we are forced to let the fire go up the chimney while we are in one of the most populated areas of the country. Even though we use groundwater cooling and leading cooling technology, we still have surplus heat that may as well benefit Copenhagen’s households.

The climate agenda is in great focus today, especially at Christiansborg. But recycling of surplus heat is not just a climate issue. If Denmark has to maintain its position as one of the world’s leading countries on digitalisation, which includes developments in smart cities, it requires us to take the lead. Not only to show that we can handle the green transition without sacrificing modern services, but also to attract more investments that focus on both financial and climate accounting. Members of the Danish parliament should be inspired by our neighbors in Stockholm. That is what both citizens, businesses and the environment is best served with.