The world’s first energy islands have been planned for construction in Denmark. The Danish Government is planning to establish two large-scale energy islands, one in the North Sea and one in the Baltic Sea, by 2030. In the North Sea, an artificial island will be constructed to serve, initially, as a hub for up to 3GW of offshore wind farms, and potentially up to 10GW in the future. In the Baltic Sea, the hub is constructed on Bornholm with a capacity of 2GW from offshore windfarms. The energy islands will serve as hubs for connecting energy generated from offshore wind and the energy system in the regions around the two seas. Electricity will also be supplied to neighbouring countries' electricity grids, with the UK, Germany and the Netherlands among potential beneficiaries.
The case study will examine a) the adaptability and transformative potential of the marine energy complex when addressing entirely novel solutions that have yet to be tested and b) how the known institutional barriers, such as path dependency and bounded rationality, will need to be addressed within a real-life project if it is to be brought to fruition.
The Energy Islands are located in two different areas: outside the coast of Thorsminde on the Danish Western coast, and south of the Danish island Bornholm. This makes it a comparative case study between two clearly defined construction areas in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.
The term ‘energy island’ differs from place to place, as the North Sea has the energy hub offshore, whereas in the Baltic Sea it will be placed on Bornholm.
The Energy Islands is a national project with a significant international component both in terms of implementation and energy flows, which raises transboundary governance issues. It is also a complex project that faces multiple interdisciplinary challenges of environmental, political, social, economic, and technical nature.
All these nuances will be considered in the case study to find optimal governance arrangements needed for a successful implementation of the large-scale renewable energy project.
The case study will test several assumptions:
There are more opportunities for locals to participate in the Baltic Sea case than in the North Sea one
The Esbjerg Declaration of 2022 addresses a need to implement renewable energy sources faster; but this acceleration may come at a cost (to the environment)
Turning the North Sea into a power hub will have a negative environmental effect whose consequences are hard to know and quantify in advance
The hub-and-spoke concept has the potential to facilitate internationally well-connected and more secure energy networks, but it hasn’t bene tried before in the energy sector on such a scale, so many challenges are to be expected
Is it feasible to meet EU Green Deal targets given the number of novel energy projects required, the time it takes to implement them (at least 10 years for the Energy Islands), the amount of raw materials needed etc.?
How does the decision-making timeline for implementing large-scale renewable energy projects support or hinder the realisation of EU Green Deal energy goals?
What are the main constraints in building Energy Islands in Denmark?
How can multi-level and -layered collaborative governance inform the international stakeholders’ agreement, and how can the hub-and-spoke concept be utilised to enhance international collaboration on large-scale offshore energy projects?
Which institutional barriers are present in the Energy Island planning, construction and operation phases?
In what ways does the Energy Islands project help reach renewable energy targets set in the EU Green Deal?
How can PERMAGOV’s indicator tools help organise a multitude of interests and approaches in the Energy Islands project?
What is the best way to disseminate knowledge and data from the Energy Islands to ensure efficient collaboration?
The case study is managed by the Centre for Blue Governance in cooperation with the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy. The Folkcenter will observe the current process of designing and implementing Energy Islands to better understand the priorities of actors involved, including the needs of local communities. The Folkcenter will bring awareness about the advantages of local ownership when designing/implementing such projects, both to the general public and legislators in the EU and nationally. The challenges and benefits of cross-sectoral collaboration will be highlighted to share best practice on how different stakeholders can cooperate to find an optimal solution in a complex environment.
Connections with other case studies