Context: Denmark has approved a plan to build the world’s first energy island in the North Sea that will produce and store enough green energy to cover the electricity needs of three million European households.
- The artificial island will be linked to hundreds of offshore wind turbines and will supply both power to households and green hydrogen for use in shipping, aviation, industry and heavy transport. It will connect to several European countries.
- The island, to be located 80km off Denmark’s west coast, and its surrounding wind turbines will have an initial capacity of three gigawatts and be operational around 2033.
North Sea, a hub for renewable energy
- In December, it decided to halt the search for oil and gas in the Danish part of the North Sea and hopes instead to make it a hub for renewable energy and carbon storage.
- Denmark also has plans for an energy island in the Baltic Sea (the island of Bornholm).
- The reason that the sea has been chosen as the location for future energy generation is that offshore wind turbines can provide the most sustainable form of energy in comparison to onshore wind and solar energy.
- An island needs to be created in the North Sea for this. That is because this energy generation is subject to too much fluctuation. And because not every electricity grid is robust enough to process all of this (simultaneously) generated energy in the future. There should then be enough scope for converting wind energy from alternating current to direct current.
- There also needs to be storage capacity for energy so that it does not need to be sent directly to the onshore electricity grid. Storage can be provided either through batteries or by hydrogen production by means of electrolysis. Gas pipelines can be used to transport hydrogen. This, in turn, can be converted back into electricity on land as soon as there is a demand for it.
Energy storage and distribution station in the Dogger Bank nature reserve
- The question now is where that energy island should be located. The shallowest part in the middle of the North Sea lies between the waters of the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom. That area is called the Dogger Bank.
- An advantage of that location is that wind farms off the coast of Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom can transport their energy to there and store it there too.
- The upside is that if the wind is strong in those areas, but not or not so strong off the Dutch coast, this energy can then be sent to the Netherlands. The fluctuation in the supply of wind energy could level off as a result of such a distribution station in the middle of the North Sea.
- The advantage of the location on the Dogger Bank is that it is relatively shallow. The only problem is that fish also find that area attractive for that purpose.
- What effect electromagnetic fields and infrasonic noise coming from wind farms and power lines across the seabed have on the fish population over the longer term has so far not yet been studied.
Note: The higher the turbine, the larger the blades and the more energy they generate.