No Small Hands or Small Minds: Europeans Think Big for Energy Future

March 17, 2017

Copenhagen Post:

Denmark has teamed up with Germany and the Netherlands to look into the possibility of building an island in the North Sea to locate wind turbines in the future.

The artificial island, which will include a harbour and a landing strip for aircraft, is proposed to be six square kilometres in size and be located on Dogger Bank, a large sandbank in a shallow area about 100 km off the east coast of the UK.

“We haven’t let our fantasy gain the upper hand, although it may sound a little crazy and like something out of science fiction,” said Torben Glar Nielsen, the technical head of national energy provider

“We who have the responsibility of transporting the electricity generated by offshore wind turbines back to land and the consumers must constantly push and make sure that the price continues to fall. That requires innovative big-scale solutions, and an energy hub in the North Sea is worth thoroughly looking into.”

READ MORE: World Bank: Denmark top for green energy

Millions could benefit
The national energy transmission companies of the three nations involved will sign an agreement on March 23 that looks into the opportunities of the island.

Just establishing an island at Dogger Bank from stone and sand is expected to cost over 10 billion kroner, and that’s without the cost associated with the estimated 7,000 wind turbines planned to be erected there.

But however costly the plan, the benefits of one or more of these islands could ultimately provide energy to 80 million European consumers.

Four benefits of the project:

1. It’s very windy at Dogger Bank – the wind turbines will produce more energy and do so for a longer period of time. The area is also relatively shallow, so it would be easier to erect the turbines, as opposed to many other areas in the North Sea.

2. Wind turbine parks from several nations can be linked to the island, thus turning offshore parks into ‘coastal parks’. That will make it cheaper to move the energy and avoid the use of long cables.

3. The sea cables that will be used to transport the electricity from the island to the North Sea nations can function as landfall cables and as energy highways for trade between nations. Landfall cables are today only used about half the time because it’s not always windy. By making them tools of trade, they can be used more often.

4. Lower costs associated with operations and upkeep. Reserve parts for converter stations, wind turbines and electrical components can be stored on the island, while material and manpower will have shorter transportation time on open seas.



13 Responses to “No Small Hands or Small Minds: Europeans Think Big for Energy Future”

  1. Lionel Smith Says:

    Why build an island? They can come and take over the UK, we may get some sensible government then.

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      Lot of advantages in having a central hub for switching power and a base for maintenance boats and parts.
      I’d even go and live there if there was a chance!

  2. Tom Bates Says:

    Spend and spend, make believe. The EU is getting most of it energy from French Nuclear plants as Germany shuts down its coal and nuclear plants. Energy prices are going through the roof .. Since nobody can store the energy at any resonable cost you will need the fossil fuel and nuclear plants even if they build this pipe dream. The way to compare actual prices is a simple test. If the method actually is cost effective it does not need a government subsidy, if it needs a subsidy it is a fraud.

    • funslinger62 Says:

      It doesn’t need a subsidy. It needs a carbon tax which covers the external costs of carbon. A carbon tax will benefit all products that have little to no carbon in the production chain. It will make those who use products that require carbon to pay for that usage, or encourage them to switch to less carbon intensive products.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        Sigh. More nonsense re carbon taxes. Again… please tell me how a carbon tax on my natural gas – rebated to me immediately – is going to help me pay to replace my entire heating system.

        Oh, wait…. perhaps there are subsidies available? Cause that WOULD help both me and society.

        Carbon taxes are NOT a replacement for subsidies. Unless you have a death wish for humanity.

        FFS, it’s as if the entire population of the world has been hypnotized, and the activating word is “carbon tax”. That’s when the brain gets shut down….

        • I think there is a lot of evidence that people react strongly to price signals. When gas prices went above $4/gallon in the US, people started to switch to more efficient cars. Why would that not happen with heating systems? A carbon tax may not be the panacea, but neither are subsidies, and reducing market distortions by internalizing as much of the environmental destruction would certainly help. I don’t see how that is controversial.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            It’s controversial because the effects you envision by the carbon tax (which – in your own metric – would NOT even raise gas prices to $4/gallon when people did NOT flock out to buy/build renewable energy, btw) are tiny. But the consequences of getting such a tax passed are huge.

            Consequences like:

            *Getting rid of subsidies (Those are the things that have a track record of actually working perfectly, working targetedly; and which you call a “market distortion” because you don’t understand that there is NO free market)

            * raising the price of RE energy

            * making people feel cheated by environmentalism

            * Not actually DOING ANYTHING to build and deploy new renewable energy

    • lesliegraham1 Says:

      Utter garbage as usual
      In Europe the amount of electricity generated from renewables overtook nuclear as far back as 2013 when both were at 27%.

      It’s a sign of the increasing desperation of the last of the deniers that they no longer even attempt to construct any reasoned arguments – they just make stuff up.

    • schwadevivre Says:

      A lie about the sources of energy in Europe. BTW France had to import electricity from both Germany and the UK last month

    • miffedmax Says:

      Fossil fuel production in the US is subsidized and therefore fraudulent by your definition, Tom.

      Do you read your own posts?

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      “if it needs a subsidy it is a fraud.”

      Fossil fuels have been collecting subsidies for over a hundred years, totalling billions so far. Is that a “fraud” too, Sherlock?

      ” the method actually is cost effective it does not need a government subsidy”

      You do not understand what a subsidy is for since you say such a thing. Subsidies are a way for governments to encourage economic practices which benefit society, not merely to bolster struggling industries. Which is why subsidies for renewable energy make a lot sense, and subsidies for fossil fuels do not.

      Do try to keep up.

  3. Slightly OT, but worth knowing.
    When you are being told we desperately need fracking and CSG due to gas shortages (What is happening in Australia) just refer to this article about the gas glut that is accelerating and how prices and supply are being manipulated to force up prices.

    MICHAEL WEST. Gas crisis? Or glut? Why Japan pays less for Australian LNG than Australians do.
    Posted on 14 March 2017 by John Menadue

    It is bizarre that gas customers in Japan buy Australian gas more cheaply than Australians. Some of this gas is drilled in the Bass Strait, piped to Queensland, turned into liquid and shipped 6,700 kilometres to Japan … but the Japanese still pay less than Victorians. (Bass strait is off the coast of Victoria and the gas is piped through terminals in Victoria)

    There is no market though, only a cartel of six big players who control the price: Santos, Exxon, BHP, Origin, Arrow Energy and Shell. Markets have visible prices and quantities on the bid and offer. The cartel even hides information about its gas reserves from government.

    As the price of gas has shot up threefold, as high prices exact a drag on the entire economy, and as the government confronts its challenge of energy security, it is worth considering the global gas glut.

    Tonight, at the Columbia Law School in New York, Bruce Robertson, an analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), will hand down a paper describing how this gas glut will only get worse, and how excess supply and faltering demand are leading to a breakdown of the contract pricing mechanism.

    Japan, which is comfortably the world’s largest importer of gas at 34% of the global market, showed a 2% drop in imports last year just as the three LNG plants in Gladstone, Queensland, were ramping up production.

    Japan has now begun re-exporting LNG, says Bruce Robertson. Its Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry estimates LNG demand will fall about 30% to 62 million tonnes by 2030.

    The global gas industry closed out 2015 already in glut with total nameplate liquefaction capacity of 308 million tonnes (mt) surpassing demand for LNG imports of 245mt, by 26%.

    While demand recedes across the world, the supply side looks ominous. By 2020, says Robertson, global LNG capacity is tipped to reach 400mt a year, up 30% on 2015. Some 92mtpa (million tonnes per annum) of new capacity will hit the global market between 2015 and 2020.

    While AGL was earnestly talking up gas shortages in 2014, BHP Petroleum chief Mike Yeager told journalists:

    We want to make sure that the market knows that the Bass Strait field still has a large amount of gas that’s undeveloped … We have a lot of gas in eastern Australia that’s available. It’s more important to let the citizens of Victoria and New South Wales, and to some degree, you know, even Queensland … there’s plenty of gas to supply those provinces for – you know, indefinitely.

    AGL later quietly issued a release to the ASX conceding it had plenty of gas supply.

    Last September, Japan’s energy minister said imports of LNG would continue to fall. They fell by 4.7% in 2015 and another 2% in 2016 amid a rising commitment to renewables and the rebooting of nuclear reactors that were shut down after the Fukushima disaster.

    They have also been falling in other parts of North Asia, down 9% year on year in the world’s second-largest import market, Korea.

    Then there is China, which unlike Australia, is pursuing an aggressive transition to renewable energy while growing domestic gas capacity. The big swing factor here is the forecast 50mtpa of supply to come from Russia via two new Siberian pipelines.

    Asian LNG imports peaked in 2014 and have been falling since, but what of emerging markets taking up the slack?

    There is simply too much supply coming on line, says Bruce Robertson. While demand falls, global LNG capacity is tipped to rise by 30% between 2015 and 2020.

  4. Lionel Smith Says:

    Thanks for the above on gas glut FrankS.

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