Denmark has a long history as a leading country for offshore wind and established the first offshore wind farm in the world. Furthermore, Denmark is the home of some of the world’s most experienced offshore companies, that have benefited from the unique location for exploitation of offshore wind.
A broad majority of the Danish Parliament decided on June 22 2020 to initiate the realisation of two energy islands:
- In the North Sea, an artificial island will serve as a hub for offshore wind farms with a total capacity of 3 GW and potentially up to 10 GW in the future.
- In the Baltic Sea, the Island of Bornholm will be the physical hub for offshore wind farms with a total capacity of 2 GW.
Both energy islands will export power to the mainland of Denmark and neighboring countries.
What are energy islands?
The concept of energy islands covers the definition of an existing island, the construction of an artificial island, or an island based on a platform serving as a hub for electricity generation from surrounding offshore wind farms, that will be connected and distribute power between Denmark and neighboring countries. The energy islands will also allow the connection of various offshore technical equipment for electricity generation, e.g. facilities for energy storage, hydrogen or electrolysis plants, or other technologies for energy conversion (for instance PtX).
A part of the Climate Agreement for Energy and Industry
With the Climate Agreement for Energy and Industry of the 22th of June 2020 the Danish Government (The social democratic party), Denmark’s liberal party, Danish people’s party, Danish social liberal party, The socialist people’s party, The Red-Green Alliance, The conservative people’s party, Liberal Alliance and The Alternative decided, that Denmark will become the first country in the world to begin the construction of two energy island with a total capacity of 5 GW offshore wind. The energy islands will be the beginning of a new era for future development of Danish offshore wind and the islands are scheduled for completion by 2030. One of the islands will be located in the North Sea with a capacity of 3 GW, and this island will be extended in stages as the construction of new international connections to neighboring countries are developed, and the demand of power will increase. In the future, the island can be further scaled up to 10 GW offshore wind. The other energy island will be established on the current island of Bornholm with a capacity of 2 GW. It is a prerequisite for the projects that the energy islands are profitable.
Location of the Energy Islands
The parties behind the Climate Agreement have decided on the location of offshore wind at the energy island of Bornholm and have designated an area for the location of the location of the energy island and offshore wind in the North Sea. By Bornholm, the offshore wind park will be placed approx.. 20 km south and southwest of the island. In the North Sea, the parties agreed to begin the preliminary investigations for the energy island and offshore wind. The energy island will be located at least 60 km west of Thorsminde in the western part of Jutland. The final location of the island and offshore wind in the North Sea will be decided in the spring of 2021.
The parties behind the climate agreement have in February 2021 decided on the ownership and construction type of the energy islands. With the agreement, the parties have also decided on the specific area where the artificial island and first 3 GW offshore wind in the North Sea Island will be located. Read the agreement (in Danish)
Based on this decision, Energinet have been instructed to begin preliminary investigations. At the same time, the areas are reserved for the establishment of energy islands and for the governmental expansion of offshore wind. The preliminary investigations are the first steps towards the realization of the energy islands and include geophysical (e.g. sonar studies where the seabed is screened) and geotechnical studies (e.g. drillings into the seabed) as well as environmental studies (e.g. fish, birds and benthic animals).
A number of background reports have been prepared by consultants on possible locations. These include several screening reports for location of an energy island in the North Sea as well as offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea, a geological expert assessment of the location of an energy island in a relatively shallow area in the North Sea, and visualizations of offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea. It is noted, that the reports have been prepared to investigate possible locations, and the reports do not reflect the final location of wind farms or islands. The reports are only available in Danish.
Inter-connections to the energy islands
The energy islands will be connected to neighboring countries, where wind power from the offshore wind farms is collected and distributed to power grids of the two countries. Denmark has entered political agreement with several neighboring countries to begin the joint analysis of connections to the energy islands. The political agreement will be implemented in collaboration with systems operators, i.e. Energinet and relevant partners, who will investigate the possibility of inter-connectors to the energy island.
- Political agreement with Germany (North Sea and Baltic Sea)
- Political agreement with the Netherlands (North Sea)
- Political agreement with Belgium (North Sea)
- TSO Agreement between the Danish Energinet and German 50Hertz and Energinet (Baltic Sea)
Possible construction types and ownership of energy islands
The energy island in the Baltic Sea will be the existing island of Bornholm, whilst the energy islands in the North Sea requires construction of an artificial structure. Such an artificial structure could e.g. be a platform or a caisson island. On behalf of the Danish Energy Agency, a consultant has prepared a cost benefit analysis, which assesses pros and cons of the different construction types. The report is only available in Danish.
The parties behind the climate agreement have in February 2021 decided on the ownership and construction type of the energy islands. The energy island in the North Sea will be an artificial island, which will connect and distribute power from the surrounding offshore wind farms. The island will have a minimum capacity of 3 GW, with potential for expansion to 10 GW offshore wind. The island will be considered critical infrastructure, and it has been decided that the state will have a majority ownership. This is intended to enable facilitation of private competences with regards to project development, technology and finance, and contribute to innovation and green export.
Read the agreement (in Danish)