These are mega-constructions consisting of arrays of wind turbines, which will be placed on a kind of artificial island and which, according to plans, will allow Denmark to produce more energy than any other wind. farm in the world. . This northern European country also wants to end Russia’s gas dependence.
It is considered the largest construction project in Danish history, with an estimated cost of $ 34 billion.
It was supposed to be completed by 2030, but after Russia began invading Ukraine, the Danish government announced that it was looking to quickly track its completion as a European alternative to Russians oil and gas.
“Denmark and Europe must be freed from Russia’s fossil fuels as soon as possible,” Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, said in a statement.
Mr Jørgensen said the energy islands were an “ecological way” to avoid Putin’s war financed by Europe’s money, as he believed the North Sea had enough wind energy potential to cover the energy needs of millions of households in Europe.
“This huge offshore hanging potential needs to be taken advantage of, and therefore the Danish government is beginning to prepare for the creation of additional energy islands in addition to those already planned,” he added.
According to official data, almost 49% of Denmark’s total energy production comes from wind energy sources.
At the same time, the International Energy Agency estimates that around 16% of the country’s production is currently dependent on Russia (in 2016 it was 34%).
Denmark has a long history of using strong offshore winds to generate electricity.
In fact, it was the first country in the world to build an offshore wind farm in 1991.
Under the Climate Act passed by Congress in 2019, Copenhagen has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050.
Last December, the government announced it would stop all new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.
The new islands of the North Sea
More than 400 natural islands are part of Denmark, including Greenland, but the country now wants to add more, man -made, for energy purposes.
The construction of the first “energy islands” was announced in mid -2020.
At the time, the Danish Energy Agency said the plants would be first of their kind in the world and aimed to exploit the “huge wind resources of the North Sea and Baltic Sea”.
“The islands (…) will serve as hubs that are likely to create better connections between the energy generated by the offshore wind and the energy systems of the two marine regions”, the government.
It was then estimated that offshore wind turbines around the islands could supply green electricity to at least five million homes.
“The energy islands mark the beginning of a new era for the generation of electricity from offshore wind,” the Danish agency said.
According to the plan, the first phase of the project will include the creation of an artificial island in the North Sea, which will serve as a hub for offshore wind farms providing 3 gigawatts (GW) of electricity. With long -term expansion potential of 10 GW.
Another, smaller, will be placed in the Baltic Sea, on the island of Bornholm, and should produce 2 GW of electricity.
To give you an idea, the production of a GW today requires approximately 3.125 million photovoltaic panels and represents the amount of energy consumed by 110 million LED bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Same conceptbut differents
The two energy islands are based on the same concept, but they will never be identical.
One in the Baltic Sea will be established on an existing island, which means it will be located on dry land: they refer to it as an “island within an island”.
The one in the North Sea, on the other hand, will be built on an artificial island, which initially should be the size of 18 football pitches (120,000 square meters), but should be three times larger.
Because it could be considered “critical infrastructure” for the country, the government announced that it would control at least 50.1% of the islands, and the rest would be entrusted to private companies.
The project plans to provide electricity not only to the Danes, but also to the power grids of other neighboring countries.
Professor Jacob Ostergaard, from the Technical University of Denmark, told the BBC last year that countries such as Belgium, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands could also benefit.
A new concept
According to Ostergaard, the idea of energy islands is a “revolutionary” concept.
“This is the next big step for the Danish wind industry. We paved the way to the onshore, then we jumped offshore, and now we jump to the energy islands, which will allow the Danish industry to sustain its leadership position, “he explained.
Currently, most countries that use wind power sources do so through separate turbine parks, which supply electricity directly to the grid.
According to the Danish Energy Agency, the creation of energy islands makes it possible to move wind turbines away from the coast and distribute the electricity they produce more efficiently between several countries.
“The islands serve as hubs, or green power stations, that collect electricity from the surrounding offshore wind farm and distribute it to the grid,” the agency explains.
“This makes it easier to direct electricity from a region with extensive wind resources to areas that need it most, while ensuring that the energy produced by turbines is used in the most efficient way possible according to electricity demand,” he said. he added.
However, the project was also questioned, mainly because of its high cost, the highest Denmark paid for a construction.
Local energy companies, such as Ørsted, have also questioned the effectiveness of building an artificial island, a method that has never been explored for this purpose.
A project for Europe
Criticisms have also been made about the large distance that separates energy islands from the coast, which could hinder their operations, particularly due to weather conditions and its impact on the marine ecosystem.
The country’s ability to complete construction on schedule or expedite it, as now demanded by the Ministry of Energy, has also been questioned due to the size of the project.
It was unclear last week how and where the new islands announced by the government would be located, but the government said they intended to help the flow of energy into Europe.
Denmark plans to discuss the potential expansion of energy islands with representatives of other European Union (EU) countries on May 18 at a ministerial meeting on energy opportunities in the North Sea, held in Esbjerg, in south of the country.
“The EU should become independent of Russia’s fossil fuels soon, and the best way forward is for European countries to work together to increase and accelerate the construction of renewable energy in the North Sea,” the minister said. Danish Energy.
In November, the European Union announced plans to increase offshore wind capacity of the block 25-fold by 2050 and five-fold by 2030.
Renewable energies account for almost one-third of the European Union’s current electricity needs.
According to EU figures, offshore wind power currently provides approximately 12 gigawatts to countries in the zone.