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Industrial Symbiosis

A mini – project report on the field course in Kalundborg

Haiming Lei

Jens Stærdahl

Industrial Symbiosis

Symbiosis is a close association between two different types of organisms in
a community. It can be defined as:

“The living together in permanent or prolonged close association of members

of usually two different species, with beneficial or deleterious consequences
for at least one of the parties”.(Wikipedia)

In this context, the term is applied about the industrial co-operation taking
place in Kalundborg between a number of companies and Kalundborg
Municipality, all of which exploit each others residual or by-products mutually.

The Industrial Symbiosis of Kalundborg has developed spontaneously over a

number of decades and today comprises some 24 projects. The exchange of
residual products between the companies is laid out in the following diagram.

The above diagram is drawn by the consultant of the Industrial Symbiosis of

Kalundborg Mr. Jogen Christiansen. Here it shall be menationed is Energy 2
has been taken by the Danish energy giant Dong.
All projects are environmentally and financially sustainable.

The Industrial Symbiosis of Kalundborg is built as a network co-operation

between six processing companies, one waste handling company and the
Municipality of Kalundborg.

The philosophy behind the Symbiosis is that the six companies: Dong Asnæs
Power Station, the plasterboard factory BPB Gyproc A/S, the pharmaceutical
plant Novo Nordisk A/S, the enzyme producer Novozymes A/S, the oil
refinery Statoil A/S, Bioteknisk Jordrens Soilrem A/S as well as the waste
company Noveren I/S and Kalundborg Municipality. The main concept of
this symbiosis is to exploit each other's residual or by-products on a
commercial basis.

One company's by-product becomes an important resource to one or several

of the other companies. The outcome is reduced consumption of resources
and a significant reduction in environmental strain .

The collaborating partners also benefit financially from the co-operation

because the individual agreement within the Symbiosis is based on
commercial principles. The following paragraph is to illustrate how these
companies cooperated:

Asnæs Power Station (was taken by the Danish energy giant Dong in 2006)
is Denmark’s largest power station producing a total of 1,037 MW/year. But
amazingly, it has 137 employees only.

Asnæs Power Station, a coal and orimulsion (not used any more) fired power
plant, produces heat for the city of Kalundborg and power for Zealandís high-
voltage grid. The power production covers about one third of Zealandís total
power consumption.

Heat and Steam

Asnæs Power Station produces heat for the city of Kalundborg and process
steam for the Statoil Refinery, Novo Nordisk A/S and for Novozymes A/S. The
combination of heat and power production results in a 30% improvement of
fuel utilization compared to a separate production of heat and power.

Approximately 4,500 households in Kalundborg receive district heat from

Asnæs Power Station. District heat has replaced approx. 3,500 small oil-fired
Novozymes A/S and Novo Nordisk A/S use steam from Asnæs Power Station
for the heating and sterilization of the processing plants.


The Statoil Refinery is part of the Statoil involved in more than 25 countries
and its head office is in Stavanger, Norway. Statoil Refinery in Kalundborg
receives process steam and water from Asnæs Power Station. The steam
covers about 15% of the refinery’s total consumption of steam. The rest steam
is generated by its own boiler. The refinery uses the steam for heating oil
tanks, pipelines etc.

In order to reduce the surface water consumption, Asnæs Power Station uses
some sea water and the “tech. water” from the Statoil Refinery as cooling
water. Some of the cooling water from Asnæs Power Station is used by a fish
farm producing 200 tones of trout and salmon on a yearly basis. The fish have
better growth conditions in the heated water.

These big industrial companies are large consumers of water. That is why the
Industrial Symbiosis companies were seeking to recycle as much water as
possible. Asnæs Power Station has reduced its total water consumption by 60

Previously, Asnæs Power Station used ground water for its power and heat
production only. And now the ground water has been substituted by surface
water from a lake around 20 kilometers from the Asnæs Power Station.
Asnæs Power Station is also using treated waster (so called tech. water) from
Statoil Refinery. These efforts have enabled Asnæs Power Station to reduce
its water consumption by 90 percent.


In Denmark, there is special requirement for the sulphur dioxide emission in

the coal fire power plants. The desuiphurization plant of Asnæs Power
Station, which removes sulphur dioxide from the flue gas, produces about
200,000 tonnes of gypsum on a yearly basis. The gypsum is then sold to BPB
Gyproc A/S, a company that manufactures plasterboard for the construction
industry. The gypsum from the Asnæs Power Station reduces the import
(mainly from Spain) of natural gypsum significantly. Because it is more
uniform and purer than natural gypsum, power station gypsum is therefore
well suited for the plasterboard production. (In China, there will be a special
requirement for the sulphur dioxide emission in the coal fire power plants
which generate 80 percent of the electricity there. But so far there is no
desuiphurization plant exists in China now although it can produce gypsum
which is highly demanded in China’s booming construction industry).


The combustion of coal and orimulsion at Asnæs Power Station results in

approximate 80,000 tonnes of ash. The largest ash is ship to the Aalborg
Portland and then recycled in the cement industry. The reasons that the ash is
ship to the Aalborg Portland are: The first there is already a cement plant in
Aalborg. The second is that the shipping transport is very cheap and Asnæs
Power Station has its own port in Kalundborg.
The Problem Formulation
As we may have noticed that the Asnæs Power Station is the central player in
this Industrial Symbiosis of Kalundborg since it provides others the heat and
the steam.

Because of its central roll in this Industrial Symbiosis of Kalundborg, we raise

the first and most important question in this paper. That is in case the Asnæs
Power Station reduces its heat production; will the others be affected by
the reduction of the heat supply?

In PBL course we have learned that normally there shall be only one question
be raised in an essay like this. But because we are writing a paper about
industrial symbiosis which consists of many companies, we think the second
question shall also be raised and that is the Industrial Symbiosis of
Kalundborg’s success story is base on “bottom-up” model. Will a “top-down”
model perform better?

The Methodology

The method to solve the problems we think beside the reading material which
available in many ways; we shall take the opportunity of this field course to do
some site visiting and field interview with the expert like consultant Mr. J.

Field interview with Mr. J. Christiansen has been conducted. Following are the
questions and answers of the interview.

1. Denmark has done very well in the energy saving and renewable energy
application. Energy consumption per unit of GDP is among the lowest in
the world. But CO2 emission per capita is also one of the highest in the
world. The total CO2 emission of Denmark in 2006 increased 16 per cent
than in 2005. The main reason behind of the high CO2 emission is the
larger amount of electricity was produced by coal fire power plants here.
Asnaes Power Plant is the biggest of this kind in Denmark. So it is also the
largest CO2 emitter in Denmark. Asnaes Power Plant is also the key
player of the industry symbiosis in Kalungborg since the others are largely
depended on the steam and heat it provides. According to the goal set by
Danish government that 50 per cent of the electricity in Denmark will be
generated by wind power. In order to achieve this goal Asnaes Power
Plant may reduce its electricity production and in hence it will reduce its
heat production. Will the reduction of the heat production affect the
symbiosis chain?

J. Christensen: Yes, Denmark has a very high CO2 emission per capita as
most of the electricity produce here are by the coal fire power plants. But the
efficiency of these power plants is very high. We may do better in reducing the
globe CO2 emission by helping countries like China, India which also have
very high CO2 emission cause by a lot of low efficient coal fire power plants.
We can help them by providing them the know-how we have here in

Right now Asnaes Power Plant produces enough heat which can meet the
needs of the existing symbiosis in Kalungborg. There is still enough heat can
meet the demand even if the electricity production will be reduced. And
because of the unstable of wind power, the coal fire power plant will still play a
big roll in Denmark in the near future.

2. Coal is not renewable; it will be extinct within 100-200 years. Is that means
the symbiosis in Kalungborg will also be end when the time comes?

J. Christensen: It will not happen as the coal will not be extinct suddenly. Right
now coal is cheap and other renewable fuel sources are more expensive. But
with the development of the renewable fuel source technology, the other
renewable fuel sources can replace the coal to generate the electricity and the
heat. That means the symbiosis in Kalungborg can be sustainable.

3. In your latest consultant report, you have indicated that the symbiosis in

Kalungborg was started from bottom up and not according to a plan. There
is no “super manager” in the symbiosis here in Kalungborg. And so far it is
very success. There are also many failures in the “top-down” model in the
world. China is still largely run the communist central plan economy. The
“Eco-industrial Parks” there are mainly the “top-down” model. Is there any
success story there?

J. Christensen: It is also depended on the different culture. The “bottom-up”

model can be function well here because Denmark has a long democratic
tradition. Individual companies will not accept a “super manager” sitting on
their heads. They will also not have any government’s subsidy as there will be
a lot of requirements from the government and there will be a lot of
bureaucratic papers need to be filled to apply the subsidy.
I do not know so much detail stories about China. But from some successful
stories in South Korea, China can use those “top-down” models. Just notice
that the government can take some initiatives, but shall not go too deep
inside. Maybe the best way for the government or the consultants to approach
is “side-in”. So called “side-in” is when the companies need some help and we
can offer them the help they need or give some advises which may fit them.

Beside the interview with Mr. J. Christiansen, site visiting to Asnæs Power
Station and Statoil Refinery had been conducted. But there is limited date
were collected. The last day of visiting a pig farm turned out to be a very
interesting and very rewarding.

Industrial Symbiosis in Kalundborg provides a number of advantages:
 Recycling of by-products. The by-product of one company becomes a
useful resource for another company.
 Reduced energy consumption and consumption of resources like water.
 Reduced SO2and CO2 emissions. Reduced discharges of wastewater

A number of criteria for an Industrial Symbiosis:

 The companies must fit each other and are not the competitors.
 The physical distance of the companies shall not be too long.
 The mental distance of the companies shall also be short. Openness and
communication are very important.

The 2 problems raised in the problem formulation have been answered very
clearly in the interview with Mr. J. Christiansen.
 Lessons to be learned from The Industrial Symbiosis at Kalundborg,
Denmark by J. Christiasen – Nov. 2006
 Cities and Industrial by Pierre Desrochers
 – a website of the Kalundborg Centre for Industrial