Roskilde's glowing incinerator powers 65,000 households

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The Energy Tower is a new waste-to-power incinerator in Roskilde, Denmark

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Incinerators can't often be described as beautiful, but a newly inaugurated incinerator in Roskilde, Denmark, is just that. The main purpose of the Energy Tower is to generate electricity and heat. At night-time, though, glowing lights can be seen beneath its perforated façade.

The Energy Tower isn't the first energy generation plant with an unusual exterior in Denmark. Amagerforbrænding's plant just outside Copenhagen doubles as a ski slope and, like the Amagerforbrænding plant, the Energy Tower generates electricity by burning waste.

Waste from nine surrounding municipalities and from places abroad will be incinerated at the Roskilde plant. According to its developer KARA/NOVEREN, this will be be enough to produce electricity for around 65,000 homes and heat for around 40,000 homes.

The plant is said to use up to 95 percent of the energy in the waste it burns, compared to 70 percent at the plant it is replacing. In addition, it produces both heat and electricity, which the previous plant could not.

The design of the Energy Tower takes inspiration from the local Roskilde Cathedral, with a 97 m (318 ft) spire. The lower part of the building, meanwhile, references the angular roofs of surrounding factories. It is the building's lighting effect that is the most noteworthy part of the design.

The face of the building comprises two layers. The inner layer provides the climatic barrier for the incinerator, whilst the outer skin of aluminum plating provides an industrial-looking aesthetic. The outer layer is also perforated and lighting is mounted between the two layers to produce an effect that looks as though the building is glowing when it is dark.

"At night the backlight perforated façade transforms the incinerator into a gently glowing beacon – a symbol of the plant’s energy production," explains designer Erick van Egeraat. "Several times an hour a spark of light will gradually grow into a burning flame that lights up the entire building. When the metaphorical fire ceases, the building falls back into a state of burning embers."

The Energy Tower was inaugurated at the beginning of September, although it became operational in 2013.

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