The offshore pioneer

How Denmark integrated offshore wind into its energy mix

Denmark, already a pioneer in onshore wind, was also a first mover in the offshore sector and today its market is the second-biggest after the UK, and ahead of Germany and the Netherlands.

As a small country with relatively modest wind resources, offshore wind was attractive early on, given the advantage of relatively shallow waters and greater wind resource in the eastern North Sea, Skagerrak waterway and the western Baltic.

The government was one of the first to provide financial incentives to develop renewable energy, first in the form of a grant for 30% of initial costs, and latterly through a feed-in tariff (FIT). So encouraged, Denmark went on to build the world’s first offshore wind farm in 1991, Dong’s 5MW 11-turbine Vindeby project, sited 1.5 kilometres from shore.

Connectivity advantage

A key advantage to integrating offshore wind into Denmark’s energy mix as the sector has developed has been the connectivity of the country to neighbouring Germany, Norway and Sweden. Connection to the latter two countries via the Cross-Skagerrak link means Denmark’s offshore wind generation can be balanced with Scandinavia’s hydropower output. Denmark therefore has no need for non-renewable balancing projects to deal with periods of low wind, and can export wind to be stored in hydro-pump storage when excess power is generated.

Denmark’s early-mover status means it has been able to create a robust offshore supply chain, which has led to it being home

to offshore turbine pioneers such as Vestas.

Danish waters currently host 12 offshore wind farms, the largest being Dong’s 209MW 91-turbine Horns Rev II, 30 kilometres off Jutland. Development offshore continues, with Denmark’s biggest project to date — Dong’s 400MW Anholt project, due to come on stream in 2013, when it will generate 4% of the country’s electricity. Wind on- and offshore now accounts for 24% the country’s generation capacity.

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