How did the festival become carbon neutral?

COP15 article, Marie Sauer-Johansen 15/09/2009;


New technologies power the world’s first completely CO2 neutral music festival.

The Technical University of Denmark houses CO2PENHAGEN, the first festival in the world to rely completely on sustainable energy produced on location.

“We want to demonstrate green technologies in new ways. The technologies we need already exist – not only are we CO2-neutral, we actually produce more energy than we need” says journalist Katrine Vejby, who has organised the festival in collaboration with the university.

A program packed with famous Danish bands has attracted crowds of music-lovers to the usually deserted parking lots at the university on the outskirts of Copenhagen, where the festival kicked off on September 5 – 6.

65 pct. of the energy used is provided by a ‘Stirling engine’ running on organic matter. The rest is provided by a gasifier  and two generators running on second-generation bio-ethanol and rapeseed oil. Solar cells and bicycles are also used.

“Our definition of sustainability is to be self-sufficient, so we don’t have to buy carbon-offsets,” explains Ms. Vejby.
She points to two university students who are busy demonstrating bioethanol production.

“We want to show the technologies in one of the environments where they are invented. By putting them into a concrete function, we show that they work as well as the technologies we already know,” says Ms. Vejby. Her voice is almost drowned by the enthusiastic shouts from two teams competing to produce the most power on exercise bikes. The stage is lit up by blue LED-lights, and the DJ spinning the records to speed up the two teams is one of Danish music’s grand old men, master Fatman.

“The amount of interest in the festival has been overwhelming – so many bands and organizations have wanted to be part of this”, says Ms. Vejby, her eyes shining with excitement.

And there is a lot to be excited about: At the end of the festival, the CO2-neutral Stirling engine had produced 1 Megawatt hour more than what was used, and most tickets were sold, despite rain on the first day.

“We hope to inspire other festivals, and that we will be able to do this again,” concludes Ms. Vejby.


The festival is carbon neutral because it gets the renewable energy from local energy sources produced on the festival site.

In what areas is the festival carbon neutral?
All installations at the festival, including scenes, bars, and light installations, receive energy from plants that produce renewable energy. The plants are found at DTU, thus making all energy locally produced. The energy comes from a Stirling-motor, a Viking-gasify system, and two generators that run on 2nd generation bio-ethanol and DME. Solar cells and bicycles will also be used to generate energy.
How will CO2PENHAGEN reduce energy?
CO2PENHAGEN reduces energy use by implementing innovative low-energy technologies. In comparison with a traditional festival of the same size, CO2PENHAGEN will only use half the amount of energy. This is made possible from the use of low energy technologies found at the Technical University of Denmark, such as absorption cooling (cooling from excess heat), solar cells, and LED-lighting.
In what places can we not ensure Carbon neutrality?
We can ensure CO2-neutrality for all three days of the festival. However, we cannot ensure CO2-neutrality for the preparation time up to the festival, or with regards to transportation to and from the festival (cars, busses, trains, etc), or with the food and drinks that are delivered and sold at the festival. Our ambitions are to make all the elements as climate-friendly as possible and to the best of our ability.