Will we all be skiing in Denmark by the end of the year?
It’s not the most obvious choice for a ski resort – despite being on the edge of Scandinavia it’s not the snowiest country, nor is it famous for its mountainous terrain.
But what the Danes are famous for in the 21st century are innovation, real commitment to the environment, and looking out for the quality of life of their citizens. They have a huge new project near Copenhagen that ticks all three boxes in one project – and it involves skiing.
A new waste-to-power incinerator plant being close to the capital Copenhagen is currently nearing completion. Unlike the conventional image of power station, it’s clad in shiny aluminium, will be surrounded by parkland and, crucially, has a sloping roof on which the operators plan to build one of the world’s longest year-round, artificial surface dry ski slopes.
Actually the total slope length is 440m – almost identical to the slope at Ski Dubai, with which this project could become a comparable icon in world skiing.
Of course the plant, which, this being Denmark, has been largely publically funded, wasn’t built with a ski slope but the designers, the BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), have a history of ski projects and it seems they couldn’t resist. One of their earlier ideas was to build an apartment complex with a sloping roof on the top of a mountain in Lapland in order to increase the ski area’s vertical. The same company is behind Google’s new £1bn headquarters at Kings Cross, London.
With this power plant (unlike Google’s new London HQ alas) , officially known as the Amager Bakke waste-to-power incinerator plant, BIG figured why not give it a sloping roof and put a ski run down it? Fortunately the inventors saw the sense in that and gave them the green light.
The plant, work on which began in 2013, is however part of Copenhagen’s aim to become the world’s first zero-carbon city by 2025, with the power station expected to burn 400,000 tons of waste annually into enough clean energy to power 60,000 homes, as well as communal heating plants, with pure water the waste product.
For skiers, the numbers are quite impressive too, as project director Patrik Gustavsson told InTheSnow,
“The slope will be divided into four adjacent slopes; beginning from the bottom with two green runs (a 60m long slope with an 18% pitch and a 120m long slope with a 20% pitch), a blue run (80m long with a 18-25% pitch) and finally a 180m long red-black steeper run pitching at 23-45%,” Patrik explains, adding, “Each slope will have its own lift system (three magic carpets for the first three and one platter lift for the upper. If you take the ride form the top to the bottom we’re talking about a slope that is approximately 440 meters long over about 80 vertical metres.”
The building itself is 86 metres tall and skiers and boarders will reach the roof at the top of the slopes by ascending in elevators running up through the interior of the plant.
“The capacity for the ski slope part of the “mountain” is approximately 150 – 200 people but we have an allowance for up to 1,500 people to be on the rooftop at any one time,” Patrik adds.
One concern for skiers is safety on the slope, which begins with what are essentially precipices (the non-sloping sides of the building) on three sides.
“We’re working together with some of the world’s most renowned ski-security experts to ensure that it is as safe to go skiing on Amager Bakke/Copenslope as it is to go skiing in the alps/US. One possibility is to use nets as safety devices,” Patrik confirms.
The incineration part of the plant is now largely complete and the company is now looking in more detail at the ski slope including which of the available dry slope surface materials to use.
BIG originally envisaged the plant blowing a giant smoke ring from the top of the building to symbolise the conversion of waste to clean power but as yet a clean smoke ring blowing device has not been successfully patented, although a crowd funded project is still trying to achieve just that before the slope opens later this year.
Copenhagen’s Power Plant Ski Slope In Numbers
Total slope Length: 440m
Number of runs: 4
Max Vertical: 86m
Steepest pitch: 45%
Homes Powered: 60,000
Tons of Waste Burned: 400,000