One of Rockwool's two factories in Norway is located in the industrial area of Leangen in Trondheim, where stone wool is made for the world-leading producer of insulation. Previously, surplus heat from the factory went up in smoke, whereas now it is sent directly to Statkraft Varme's grid.
"We're delighted to have achieved this," says factory manager Froder Humbernes. "The fact that surplus heat wasn't previously used for anything has been our Achilles’ heel for many years, so this marks a milestone."
The factory's annual heat output is estimated at 3.5 GWh. An estimate shows that this is equivalent to the heating energy needs of around 300 houses.
By connecting to the district heating grid, Rockwool has also become a customer.
"As well as selling our surplus heat, we buy heat from Statkraft in periods when we need it," says Humbernes. "Today, we use some oil for heating, and the goal is to phase that out. Stakraft's delivery of surplus heat is a better alternative, both financially and environmentally."
The district heating pipes already ran right past the factory site, and Statkraft Varme (Statkraft District Heating) covered the investment costs of connecting the Rockwool factory to the grid.
"That made it much easier for us to get started. Cooperating with Statkraft, a major actor with existing infrastructure, has made it a very positive experience," the factory manager adds. A similar contract has also been signed with Rockwool's factory in Moss.
"Our cooperation with Rockwool on reusing resources which otherwise would have been wasted is a great example of resource efficiency and shows in practice how district heating makes an important contribution to an environmentally friendly energy system," says Bjørn Hølaas, head of district heating in Statkraft.
As well as selling our surplus heat, we buy heat from Statkraft in periods when we need it.
District heating used to be a matter of standard agreements. The product was hot water, delivered to the end user's home. This has changed in recent years because of the changing demands of end users and the new framework conditions emerging in the industry. Today's customers consist of more than end users who buy environmentally friendly heating; Statkraft Varme's customers now also include developers and building contractors who are deciding which energy solutions to use for new builds, and companies who need assistance in operating their own buildings.
"Our goal is to make district heating the customer's preferred energy solution, so it's important for us to enter the construction process at an early stage and establish a good dialogue on the choice of energy solutions," says Hølaas.
Statkraft Varme has conducted several customer surveys and held meetings with customers to find out more about their needs.
"This customer dialogue has provided us with valuable information for developing new concepts and knowledge about what our customers expect of us as an energy supplier in the future," says Holaas.
Several new products and services have been introduced in a short space of time, and they have been well received in the market. "Our goal is to create greater value for both our customers and us," he adds.
"Standard district heating contracts are of course an important part of our product portfolio, but we also offer district heating products related to cooling systems for buildings, street heating and building heating. Service delivery, such as assistance with operational staff to ensure optimal operation of companies' own buildings and ongoing service agreements, have also become good business."
Increased digitalisation is a natural result of a strong customer focus. Digital tools make life easier for customers and ensure good customer dialogue.
"We were one of the first district heating suppliers in Norway to launch a customer app in 2016 that provides access to information about their own consumption, meter readings, and invoices," says Hølaas.
"Right now, we're implementing our own energy calculator, which will enable customers to make their own assessment of which energy solution is most appropriate for their building."
Hølaas is aware that his company's position as a supplier of innovative, climate- friendly and future-oriented energy solutions must be reinforced continually if it is to capture the customers of the future.
Text: Sissel Fantoft
Photo: Ole Martin Wold
The article has also been published in Statkraft's magazine People & Power no. 2/2017.
The business partnership between Rockwool and Statkraft:
> The surplus heat delivered by Rockwool to the district heating grid is equivalent to the heating energy needs of approximately 600 houses.
> The annual output of heat in Trondheim is estimated at 3.5 GWh.
> The annual output of heat in Moss is estimated at 4 GWh.
> Rockwool uses district heating from Statkraft to heat its factories in Trondheim and Moss.
> This partnership results in increased resource utilisation.
19. Dec. 2017