As thousands of Eurovision Song Contest guests begin to arrive in Europe’s Green Capital 2014 for next week’s mega-event, a behind-the-scenes look at conditions for the event betrays a singular lack of environmental friendliness.
Traversing the city on their electrical bicycles, along newly laid pristine bicycle lanes, few entering the B&W halls on Refshale Island will realise that the location and event is being powered by an army of humming and puffing diesel-driven generators.
»As far as energy and the climate are concerned, all these generators are a catastrophe. It would be much better for them to get their electricity from the grid, both as far as climate, energy efficiency and the environment are concerned«, says Kåre Press-Kristensen, engineer and senior adviser for the Economic Council.
The use of 26 heavy duty diesel guzzling generators is a far cry from the sustainability and environmental label placed on the contest by Visit Copenhagen on its web page, where it boasts that everything about the contest has been thought into environmental friendliness.
Strange, therefore, that Host City Copenhagen has not made an effort to use clean technologies – of which Denmark boasts to be a world leader – in hosting one of the world’s biggest television events.
'This is not a green show' But Host City Copenhagen is unrepentant and suggests that only diesel generators can secure enough electricity to host the event.
»This is not a green television show. That has been clear from the start. The show needs what it needs to be held under these conditions«, says Host City Copenhagen Spokesman Emil Spangenberg, who sees nothing inconsistent in Copenhagen as a green brand and importing 26 diesel engines to run the show.
Asked whether it would not have been better to find green alternatives to diesel generators, given that Denmark prides itself on having some of the world’s leading sustainable energy companies, Spangenberg is unapologetic.
»You could say that. But what we have done here in collaboration with the experts we have been working with on the project is that we have found solutions that are best for the venue and conditions we are working under. Not least to secure the electricity quality that is needed to mount a production such as this«, Spangenberg says.
The large park of diesel generators has been brought in to help supply the 7 megawatts of energy that the show requires over and above 4 megawatts supplied by Dong. The generators release about twice as much CO2 as the electricity pulled out of normal sockets, as well as releasing diesel particles and NOx.
No real alternative
The Danish Broadcasting Corporation DR says that the generators are a prerequisite for the show being able to take place at all.
»To ensure unbroken broadcasts to some 40 countries we have to have stable electricity. To ensure stable delivery throughout the period it has been necessary to use generator energy. It’s simply a prerequisite for mounting a television show of this size«, says DR Executive Producer Permille Gaardbo.
Copenhagen Light Production, which has delivered the generators, says that there is no real alternative.
Politiken has tried to get close to the generators, which have been running for a month during rehearsals, in order to measure particle and NOx emissions, but the generator area is out of bounds after having been swept by Copenhagen police. Neither DR nor Wonderful Copenhagen have published emission figures.