No Small Hands or Small Minds: Europeans Think Big for Energy Future
March 17, 2017
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 Energinet.dk.
“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.”
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.