Denmark reveals audacious artificial “energy island” to replace gas and oil

Chris Davies - Feb 5, 2021, 8:41am CST
Denmark reveals audacious artificial “energy island” to replace gas and oil

The world’s first artificial wind energy hub, a floating man-made island focused on generating and storing green power, will be built in the North Sea, Denmark has announced today. The project, led by the Danish Energy Agency which is part of the country’s Ministry of Climate, Energy, and Utilities, will eventually be capable of providing enough power for 10 million European households, it’s claimed.

As you might expect, then, this is no small undertaking. The artificial island will be constructed about 50 miles off the short of the peninsula Jutland, the Danish ministry said today, and owned by a public-private partnership.

It’s one of two “energy islands” that Danish coalitions have decided to build, as the country weens itself off gas and oil extraction in the North Sea. Already, it has canceled all future licensing rounds for that, and has set a 2050 cut-off for extraction. Instead, it’s looking to wind and other green power sources, but for that to be feasible the projects will need to be significant.

Initially, the island is expected to have an area of at least 120,000 square meters, or around 30 acres. The Danish State will own the majority of the island itself, but private companies will be involved in outfitting it with the necessary components for eco-friendly power generation and storage. It’ll be a hub for hundreds of wind turbines surrounding the island, power from which will be supplied directly to countries surrounding the North Sea.

These will be no ordinary turbines, either. The final number is expected to reach 200-600, depending on winning tenders, and the Danes say that they “will be at a previously unseen scale,” possible measuring more than 850 feet from sea level to the tip of the blade.

In the first phase, the expectation is that it will be able to supply around 3 million European households, or around 3 GW. That’s sufficient to replace around half the current Danish offshore production. The potential capacity, however, is expected to be more like 10 Gigawatts. Among the possible occupants will be a power storage and conversion facility, which could initially serve a harbor but, it’s suggested, eventually convert it to liquid green fuel that could be distributed via subsea cables to neighboring countries.

The second project will use an existing island, Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea. That, too, will act as a physical hub for offshore wind farms, and is expected to have a total capacity of 2 Gigawatts.

Completion of the islands projects is scheduled to take place by 2030. Preliminary investigations are already underway, including geophysical and geotechnical studies to ascertain the status of the seabed and its potential for drilling for tethers and other uses, along with environmental studies into the possible impact on birds, fish, and more.

Currently, Denmark has inked agreements with Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and some power systems operators to look into how the supplies to neighboring countries will be handled. While it’s a huge project, and is likely to be an expensive undertaking – with initial estimates pegged at around $34 billion – the European Commission has proposed eventually building 300 Gigawatts of offshore wind energy in order to hit its climate neutrality target by 2050.


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