And I saw a beast with three horns rising out of the sea
South Korea and Denmark announce huge offshore wind plans
This seems to be the week of peninsular nations announcing ambitious wind farms. Both Denmark and South Korea have approved expensive plans to develop significant offshore wind energy, with respective price tags of $34 billion and $43 billion — a flipped set of digits being appropriate for a green ambition shared by two nations flipped topographically.
Though, the prices are not the only differences between the projects. While South Korea’s plan is a straightforward expansion of wind energy generation, Denmark’s focuses on building an energy hub to not only generate new power but also connect wind energy directly to consumers, and there is the fact that it’s going to be built on an artificial island.
The Danish plan is actually twofold: build two energy hubs, one on the existing island of Bornholm and one on a new, constructed island. The constructed island will be 50mi/80km off the coast of the Jutland Peninsula and into the North Sea. It will be at least 1.3 million sqft/120,000 sqm (or ~18 soccer fields, if that’s easier to visualize) and surrounded by hundreds of wind turbines, making it the “largest construction project in Danish history.”
All those turbines will provide 3 gigawatts (GW) of energy in the hub’s initial phase (ideally beginning 2030-2033), enough to power 3 million European households. The plan is to eventually ramp it up to 10 GW, power for 10 million households. Viewed together, the two energy hubs are planned to supply 5 GW in the initial phase — triple current offshore capacity — with a later maximum capacity of 12 GW. At the final, fully realized stage, emphasis will be on the project delivering energy to any and all North Sea-bordering EU states, sensible considering Denmark only has 2.5-3 million households.
In like manner, the Danish project stands as an integral piece to EU-wide energy aims. With the EU goal of climate/carbon neutrality by 2050 and “a target of 300 GW offshore wind energy in order to attain this goal,” both energy hubs and the new Danish island will be a significant step towards fulfilling green energy targets.
Shifting from the North Sea to the Yellow Sea, what South Korea’s project lacks in novelty it makes up for in magnitude. With an additional $9 billion dollars over Denmark’s plan, the project aims to build the world’s largest offshore wind complex by 2030 (nice). When operational, it will have a maximum capacity of 8.2 GW — the power of six nuclear reactors — helping significantly to get the country to its 2030 goal of 16.5 GW of wind power capacity.
The project is part of efforts to build back and recover from Covid-19 in an environmentally friendly manner. “With this project, we are accelerating the eco-friendly energy transition and moving more vigorously toward carbon neutrality,” President Moon Jae-in said at the signing ceremony in the coastal town of Sinan. It also stands as a vital early step in South Korea’s stated goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Another aspect key to both projects is public-private cooperation. Both ventures are being taken not by one sector or the other, but by a combination of government and enterprise involvement. The South Korean complex will be funded primarily by utility and engineering companies, many of which were at the signing ceremony with President Moon. They will cover $47.6 trillion of the cost with the South Korean government providing the final $0.9 trillion.
The Danish picture is, in continued fashion, a bit flipped. The energy hub will be owned by a public-private partnership, with the Danish state owning the majority of the island and private companies supplying crucial “innovation, flexibility, cost-effectiveness and business potentials.”
In these like-minded ventures, both nations are taking strong steps towards renewable energy futures and towards meeting their climate goals. Perhaps, it is unsurprising that two nations so greatly exposed to the ocean would recognize the importance in taking an aggressive stance against climate change and the threat of rising sea levels. Hopefully, other states, regardless of their own predispositions to oceanic danger, may follow the example in forming and realizing their own ambitious plans for growing renewable energy.
All of the quotes relating to Denmark’s project come from their Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities and Danish Minister for Climate Dan Jørgensen. The quote relating to South Korea’s project comes from President Moon, obviously.
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