Most Influential Projects 2021

09 Energy Island

Denmark's Energy Island, an artificial island housing an offshore wind farm

For revolutionizing renewables—yet again

Thirty years after Denmark built the first offshore wind farm, it’s pioneering another energy first: creating an artificial island expected to generate enough wind power for the country’s entire grid, plus other parts of Europe. 

Slated to be operational in 2033, the DKK210-billion Danish Energy Agency facility is the largest construction project in the country’s history. And the North Sea hub could also provide a blueprint for other coastal nations looking for alternatives to traditional, land-gobbling renewable energy infrastructure. 

Here’s a look at its ambitious goals—and what it will take to turn them into reality: 

Public Meets Private

Most of the funding for the US$34-billion megaproject will come from the private sector, but the Danish State will be the majority owner of the hub.

Futureproof Plans

Surplus solution: The team will design the island to store excess electricity when supply is greater than demand. 

Power to pivot: Plans include an option for power conversion facilities that can turn electricity into another form of energy, such as hydrogen through electrolysis.

Offshore Innovations

1991: Denmark builds the world’s first offshore wind farm on the island of Lolland. 

2019: The government launches a DKK65-million study to find suitable sites to build large wind farms and power plants on artificial islands.

Denmark later unveils a climate action plan that calls for big investments in renewable energy and a 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 over 1990 levels.

February 2021: The Danish government introduces the Energy Island project and launches preliminary studies on the seabed around the island in May.

This decision marks the start of a new era of sustainable energy production in Denmark and the world, and it links very ambitious climate goals with growth and green jobs. ... It will make a big contribution to the realization of the enormous potential for European offshore wind, and I am excited for our future collaboration with other European countries.

Minister for climate,energy and utilities 

2022: Project owners are expected to close public-private partnership deals for building transmission cables that will send surplus power from the island to other parts of Europe. 

2024: Energinet, the Danish operator of the power transmission network, is slated to complete studies for seabed and environmental impacts of the offshore wind turbines. 

2026: Energy Island project activities are scheduled to begin. 
The breakdown:
—Two years for design and planning
—Three years for building

Denmark is still deciding whether to build the entire island at once or opt for a modular approach that would allow teams to scale the island over time. 

Much of the offshore construction will take place during the warmest months. To keep the project on schedule, some elements of the facility will be built onshore during the colder months. 

2033: Energy generation is slated to start.