Bratsberg / The river heats up Porselensfabrikken

The river heats up Porselensfabrikken

– «The point is to take environmental considerations into account and find out how we can produce the energy we require. Since the river flows past the building, it makes sense to make use of the energy source it provides», says Jørn Bjerke enthusiastically.

Self-sufficient with renewable energy

Jørn Bjerke, Bratsberg’s head of operations at Porselensfabrikken’s energy centre in Porsgrunn, supplies the right temperature to 22000 m2 of property and streets.

– «Today, the entire property is self-sufficient with heating and cooling provided by the river», explains the head of operations. «We use renewable energy from the river water to heat up offices, shops, fitness centres, apartments and streets. In the summer, we use the water to cool them down», he adds. The energy centre was built when Bratsberg started developing the area in 2009.

Today, the entire property is self-sufficient with heating and cooling provided by the river.

Jørn allows himself plenty of time to fine tune the facility.
– «We use heat exchange technology, but in my mind it boils down to a chemical process. We put in 1Kwh and get 2 in return. Everything has to be regulated and function optimally in order to maintain efficient running and the right temperature. There are, no doubt many people who know a lot more about the pumps and heat exchangers than I do. But I don’t think there are many who know as much about how they can get them to operate together, here at the energy centre. It’s a lot of fun», says Jørn, eagerly.

Head of operations, Jørn Bjerke, at Porselensfabrikken’s energy centre

How important is it to use the river to heat up buildings and towns?
– «I know what’s required to take things to the next level here, and work constantly to improve the efficiency of the facility. It’s a matter of putting our pride into the development of the energy centre.»

Recovering the energy

– «The next step will be to find a way to recover the surplus energy, which at the moment goes straight into the river», explains Jørn. «By storing the energy, we could use more of it.» Finding ways of using and storing unused energy is a field yet to be fully explored, according to Jørn.

Do you have plans for storage?
– «No, not us, but I gather Skagerak Varme are aiming to store industrial heat from Herøya. To connect an accumulator tank to that chimney out there would have been incredible», says Jørn enthusiastically, at the same time as he is quick to point out the financial and technical challenges. – «But there are definitely ways to get around these», he adds convincingly.

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