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Green islands: a snapshot of Denmark’s offshore wind hubs network


“an advanced real-estate investment” whereby VindØ leases out space to the government and private sector participants who will run the island’s various operations. “There are certain risks associated with the construction phase, but once the island is up and running, it is a medium-to-lowrisk asset,” he says. Withthe PPP limited to the island itself, the


project’s risks and rewards can be shared out. Maria Nilaus Tarp, director of Invest in Denmark, assures there is space for interna- tional names. “Denmark is a leader in offshore wind, but foreign-ownedcompanies are an inte- gral and essential part of that ecosystem,” she says, noting that Sweden’s Vattenfall and Germany’s RWE have leading roles in Danish offshore wind.


First in a product series As revolutionary as the project is, it could mark the beginning of an even more ambitious era for offshore wind. The Never-Never Island touted by Energinet back in 2017 sprung from its work with a consortium of European utili- ties called the North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH). For five years, it has been conducting studies and building political consensus to establish a network of 15 interconnected energy islands across the North Sea, which transmit power to surrounding countries, including the UK. Tim Meyerjürgens, chief operating officer of Dutch grid operator Tennet, says Denmark’s


April/May 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com


island is “the first concrete project in line with the NSWPH programme”, and that the consor- tiumis already planning another 12GWisland to be operational by 2035. This network of islands is envisaged to also


act as an offshore power grid, with countries buying and selling electricity through the cables. “We’ve done some studies to compare point-to-point connections with a grid, and we think there is a cost benefit of at least 30%,” says Mr Meyerjürgens. These savings will be vital to meeting the European Commission’s target of growing the bloc’s offshore wind capacity from 25GW to 300GW by 2050. Mr Meyerjürgens observes that each country working alone to connect each wind farm to shore means “we will never get there in time”. CIP’sMrDalsgaard agrees the current approach “is going to beway too expensive in terms of cable costs”. The benefits of energy islands and offshore


grids are not limited to the North Sea. The VindØ consortium has already identified up to 12 potential energy hubs in Asia, noting its strong winds, many natural islands and aggres- sive goal to reach 600GW of offshore wind by 2050. Indeed, the lofty climate targets set by governments around the world require more efficient ways to integrate offshore wind into energy systems and Denmark’s planned island is the best bet to-date. As Mr Pedersen notes: “This isn’t an isolated project. It’s the begin- ning of a product series.”■


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