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Denmark unveils 'energy islands' plan for 10 GW of new offshore wind

The Danish government is planning to facilitate 10 GW of new offshore wind capacity on one or more "energy islands," allocating 65 million Danish kroner of public money to the project, which will cost between 200 billion and 300 billion kroner, mostly paid for by private investors, it said on Dec. 10.

The islands will either be natural islands or platforms acting as hubs for surrounding offshore wind farms, with the power transported to different countries around the North Sea. The project would be the equivalent of 10 large offshore wind farms, and cover the power demand of more than 10 million European households, the government said.

The initial funding from the government will be used to identify suitable sites and conduct environmental assessments in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Kattegat sea area between Denmark and Sweden. The Danish government is also in early talks with other North Sea countries.

The aim for the islands is the more efficient utilization of offshore wind and the reduced need for onshore grid investments. "Storage facilities, electrolysis systems or other electrical conversion technologies can also be connected in the concept," the country's energy ministry said.

Ambitious plan

The government said it sees its role in the project as a facilitator of new technologies for the efficient use of the large amount of electricity that an energy island would produce. "The purpose is to ensure that wind turbine power can be used in other areas of society, such as transport and industry," the ministry said.

Studies will now confirm whether the project is feasible, and provide a pathway for investments before a final decision is made. "It is a huge project. We need to build more than five times as much capacity as we have today," Minister of Climate and Energy Dan Jørgensen said. "We need a sensible and ambitious plan for expansion. Therefore, we are now engaged in preliminary studies."

The energy island concept has evolved from a far-fetched theory to a more tangible option in the last year. Danish developer Ørsted A/S recently unveiled its own plans for an offshore wind hub on the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm, where it plans to build up to 5 GW of offshore wind capacity and hydrogen production facilities.

A consortium of European grid operators has also drawn up plans to develop about a dozen transmission infrastructure hubs in the North Sea, which they say would connect over 160 GW of international wind capacity while driving down costs through scale.

Denmark will need to add to its renewables arsenal in the coming years, having passed a climate act calling for 70% emissions reductions from 1990 levels by 2030. The country also aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

As of Dec. 10, US$1 was equivalent to 6.74 Danish kroner.