Three million Danish households will benefit of green electricity from offshore wind turbines all the way inside the engine room once the two islands become a reality. The Danish Energy Agency is leading the project. Read more about the Danish Energy Island.
A project to build a giant island providing enough energy for three million households has been given the green light by Denmark’s politicians. In the middle of the North Sea, the country plans to erect a power plant that will distribute wind energy far and wide across Europe.
The beginning of a new era
The energy islands mark the beginning of a new era for the generation of energy from offshore wind, aimed at creating a green energy supply for Danish and foreign electricity grids. Operating as green power plants at sea, the islands are expected to play a major role in the phasing-out of fossil fuel energy sources in Denmark and Europe.
The world’s first energy island will be as big as 18 football pitches (120,000sq m), but there are hopes to make it three times that size. Denmark pioneered its offshore wind farming thirty years ago and is now set to expand the repertoire of renewables again. By 2030, an artificial landmass far off the country’s western coast will channel green electricity from a vast network of wind turbines and transmit it to the mainland. It will serve as a hub for 200 giant offshore wind turbines.
The key to halting the rise of global temperatures
As the window for preventing catastrophic climate change shrinks, large-scale projects of this kind are key to halting the rise of global temperatures. With an eventual capacity of 10 gigawatts, the site will produce one and a half times the Danish population’s energy needs, leaving plenty for export to neighboring countries. “This is truly a great moment for Denmark and for the global green transition,” Energy Minister Dan Jørgensen said in a press release. “The island will make a big contribution to the realization of the enormous potential for European offshore wind.”
The energy island in the Baltic Sea will be Bornholm, where electrotechnical facilities on the island will serve as a hub for offshore wind farms off the coast supplying 2 GW of energy. It is the biggest construction project in Danish history, costing an estimated 210bn kroner (£24bn; €28bn: $34bn).
Turbines nearly three times the height of the Statue of Liberty
The project is only the latest step in Denmark’s push for sustainability. Last year the nation pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent from 1990 levels and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In late 2020 it also ended oil and gas exploration in its North Sea territory.
Situated 80km (50 miles) out to sea, the artificial island would be at least half-owned by the state and partly by the private sector. But don’t come looking for timeshares. It’s essentially just a hub, a centralized power plant, surrounded by hundreds of windmills. The turbines are far taller than existing ones – 850 feet, or nearly three times the height of the Statue of Liberty.
Long history of exploiting the strong winds from the sea
Denmark has a long history of exploiting the strong winds from the sea to produce electricity. The country constructed the world’s first offshore wind farm in 1991, and in the climate agreement of 22 June 2020, the Danish legislature decided to build on that legacy with the construction of two energy islands. In light of the decision reached by Danish politicians, the Danish Energy Agency is now drawing on domestic expert knowledge as well as extensive experience and skills in this field with a view to taking a historic and ambitious step on the road to phasing out fossil fuels.
Which other neighboring countries that might benefit from the Energy Island have not yet been detailed. However, Prof Jacob Ostergaard of the Technical University of Denmark told the BBC that the UK could benefit, as well as Germany or the Netherlands. Green hydrogen would also be provided for use in shipping, aviation, industry and heavy transport. Energy Minister Dan Jorgensen said the country was simply “changing the map”.
Danish Energy Agency playing a key role
The island will come into being some 50 miles out to sea from the Jutland Peninsula, but its precise location is yet to be determined. In November, Energinet — the Danish company that will construct and operate the electrical transmission system connecting the island to adjacent countries — began assessing a swath of the North Sea known as Dogger Bank, a vast sandbank that offers the combined advantage of shallow water depths and optimal wind conditions. The government expects to select a specific site by spring, and construction is slated for 2026, leaving time to study the project’s impact on the seabed and marine life.
The Danish Energy Agency is playing a key role in leading the project that will transform the two energy islands from a vision to reality. The islands are a pioneer project that will necessitate the deployment of existing knowledge into an entirely new context. Working together with well-established actors in the industry and the highest level of expertise in the field, the goal is to find the best solutions to the aspects of the project that remain unsolved.
Some sexrecy over where the new island will be built
The plan is for the island to grow from an initial 120,000 sq m in size to 460,000 sq m. The design is still uncertain, too. It could take one of several forms: a caisson, or massive concrete box filled with rocks; a floating platform tethered in place; or a pile of sand.
While there is some secrecy over where the new island will be built, it is known that it will be 80km into the North Sea. Danish TV said that a Danish Energy Agency study last year had marked two areas west of the Jutland coast and that both had a relatively shallow sea depth of 26-27m.
The innovators behind the energy islands hope their project is only the beginning. As offshore wind technology matures, it could tap into tremendous unrealized potential. Dogger Bank alone has been estimated to harbor as much as 110 gigawatts of wind energy capacity — more than 10 times Denmark’s proposed generation for the area. And if this experiment succeeds, the model it tests in the North and Baltic seas could soon be imitated by coastal nations around the world, wherever the wind blows.
The Danish Energy Island, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Photo bt the Danish Energy Agency