Denmark has announced plans to develop two massive “energy islands” powered by offshore wind which will supply 4GW to the country, one element in the country’s new climate action plan which are intended to “substantially” decrease Denmark’s CO2 emissions.
The Danish Government announced on Wednesday its first climate action plan to develop CO2 emission reductions over the next ten years – part of the country’s larger plan to ensure a 70% CO2 reduction in emissions by 2030, based on 1990 levels.
Among the six main tracks the country announced – which include green fuels, energy efficient buildings, and green heating – are what are expected to be the world’s very first energy islands. According to its Ministry of Climate, Energy and Supply, Denmark “will be the first country in the world to begin a new era in the expansion of offshore wind with a paradigm shift from individual offshore wind farms to energy islands.”
The current plan is to establish two energy islands by 2030: One, an artificial island in the North Sea, will start out with 2GW of capacity and have room to expand to 10GW, while the second, on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, will also start out with capacity of 2GW.
The resulting 4GW of offshore wind would more than double Denmark’s current offshore wind capacity. The 4GW also corresponds to more than the entire annual consumption of Denmark’s households, which will allow the energy islands to begin exporting clean power to neighbouring countries.
“Denmark must be a green pioneer country, which is why we hold on to the high climate ambitions – even if we are in the midst of an historic crisis,” said Danish climate minister Dan Jørgensen.
“With the establishment of the world’s first two energy islands, we embark on a whole new era in the Danish wind adventure. We are massively increasing the amount of sea wind, and at the same time we will be able to use the green power in the tanks of trucks, cargo ships and aircraft. We present a package that delivers both CO2 reductions in the short term and paves the way for future climate neutral Denmark.”
Plans to develop energy islands in European waters is not a new idea and has been an integral design element in plans for European 100% renewable energy models. Back in 2017, three European transmission system operators – TenneT TSO B.V. in the Netherlands, Energinet in Denmark, and TenneT TSO GmbH in Germany – signalled their intent to investigate the possibility of a North Sea Wind Power Hub.
Initially perceived to accommodate anywhere between 70GW to 100GW – enough electricity to supply as many as 70 to 100 million Europeans with renewable energy by 2050 – the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept has begun to evolve. Instead of one mammoth central hub, evolved ideas have begun to envision multiple smaller energy islands around European waters such as the North Sea and Baltic Sea.
Offshore wind has the potential to be one of the globe’s most important sources of renewable electricity generation, but current national borders and resulting energy network borders sometimes restrict the potential development. Similarly, up until recently, offshore wind turbine technology has remained in its early development stages, requiring wind farms be built closer to shore.
With the development of bigger turbines, able to generate more electricity, and floating turbine and platform technology providing access to stronger wind speeds in deeper waters further from the coast, greater development of offshore power opens up new doors for the future of society’s electricity generation.
Energy islands, then, are the next logical step – be they artificially formed islands or repurposing un- or low-populated naturally-formed islands. With the technology already in place to be able to connect offshore generation to large population centres, energy islands such as those envisioned by Denmark could be the future of offshore wind development.
“The corona crisis is serious, but it has only made the need to think about the development of Denmark greater,” said Danish Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen.
“A development that must be both green and economically wise. We must have the courage to change as we build. Therefore, the government today presents a plan that creates the foundation for thousands of green jobs.
“The first of many steps towards a sustainable future in which we secure Denmark and Danish companies the green driving position. We are proud to present changes that will have a significant impact on Denmark. Not just now and here or in 2030, but far into the future.”