Esben Hegelund is keeping Denmark warm

It was really by accident that Esben Hegelund got into the chipping business. In 1999 a “once in a century” storm caused massive treefalls throughout the country. Hegelund was there with his first small chipper. Today, 14 years later, he’s the biggest biomass producer in Denmark.

December 20, 2013

It might sound strange, but Denmark needs more waste. The country has a long tradition of incinerating household waste and using the heat to generate electricity and feed the extensive district heating network. Denmark imports substantial quantities of waste from neighbouring countries, but there is still a demand for woody biomass of high calorific value to keep incinerators burning hot. This evens out the varying heat value of different kinds of waste and ensures continuous heat delivery.
Many of these thermal power plants are customers of EHJ Energi. The company produces over a million cubic metres of biofuels a year from wood trunks, forestry residue, green cuttings and rootstocks. The company has a competitive edge in its knowledge of chipping and also in working with rootstocks. “If you remove the soil and stones from rootstocks, they’re great for making a fuel with high calorific value,” says Hegelund, adding “you just have to know what you’re doing, and have the right machines for the job.”

From rootstock to fuel
Before the rootstocks end up in the incinerator as “root chips” they have to be shredded and cleaned of impurities. The two tough, low-speed Crambos shred them down to the desired chip size. The Mustang drum screen removes earth, sand, stones and other foreign matter. Its tracked chassis makes it mobile on difficult ground. The fines that it separates out are not waste, but a “bonus material” that makes a nutritious topsoil. What’s left after screening is the biofuel. If there are still too many stones in it, Esben Hegelund runs it through the Stonefex to get them out, and ends up with a high-quality, highly pure fuel.
Today 22 motivated employees take care of over 750 customers throughout the country, making EHJ Energi Denmark’s biggest biofuel supplier. Esben Hegelund spends most of his working day on customer relations and management tasks, but he still knows exactly how to use the machines. “In the early years I would be out from early to late, running the chipper or the front loader, and if need be I still get behind the wheel,” says Hegelund, adding “After all, I have to keep Denmark warm.”