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Denmark unveils plan to build the world’s first offshore wind “energy islands”

The Danish government has published its first climate plan, thus taking a step towards the nation’s goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. A key component of the plan is to build two energy islands, with a minimum capacity of 4 GW. They will be capable of powering four million Danish homes or 7 million electric vehicles with green power.

An off-shore wind turbine blade awaiting shipment in the Port of Aalborg, Denmark.

An off-shore wind turbine blade awaiting shipment in the Port of Aalborg, Denmark.

According to the climate plan published on May 20, 2020, the energy islands will be placed in the North Sea and by the Danish Island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. The Danish Government intends to start a dialogue with the Netherlands and Poland in order to connect the two offshore wind hubs to those countries as well.

The climate crisis compels us to ramp up renewable energy production drastically and that requires new ways of thinking. The plan to establish two energy islands signals a paradigm shift in the approach to offshore wind power – not only for Denmark but for our neighboring countries as well, said Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Dan Jørgensen.

Traditionally, offshore wind farms have been built as individual non-connected entities. An energy island serves as a hub for electricity generation for the surrounding wind farms, by collecting and distributing the electricity between countries connected by an electricity grid.

A number of European countries are currently trading electricity though the day-ahead and intraday markets. The construction of energy islands will help Denmark lower global emissions, by increasing the export of renewable electricity to Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland.

This is not just about Denmark. It is about connecting Europe’s energy systems in order to speed up the green transition. The potential is truly dizzying. The energy island in the North Sea alone will have the ability to host wind farms with a capacity of 10 GW. By comparison, the current Danish offshore wind capacity is 1.7 GW, said Minister Dan Jørgensen.

About Energy Islands

Both energy islands will have an initial capacity of 2 GW. However, the energy island “North Sea” can be expanded to host a minimum capacity of 10 GW. It is technically feasible to complete the construction of both islands and the surrounding offshore wind farms by 2030. The two energy islands’ initial total capacity of 4 GW can produce enough energy to power 7 million electric vehicles or 4 million Danish households with green electricity. Currently, the world’s largest offshore wind farm “Hornsea 1” has a capacity of 1.2 GW and is located 100 km from the Yorkshire coast in the United Kingdom.

This record will be beaten when its neighbour “Hornsea 2” with a capacity of 1.4 GW becomes operational in 2022. The abundance of offshore wind energy can in the long run also be utilized to produce climate-friendly electro-fuels (e-fuels) for shipping, aviation, heavy industry or heavy-duty vehicles. The Danish government has also announced plans to ramp up its efforts on power-to-X and to join efforts with commercial partners in order to produce hydrogen, methanol, and ammonia.

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