Bornholm Energy Island: 50Hertz & Energinet cooperation

A work ship brings fitters to wind turbines

The island is to become an “offshore hub”, i.e. a hub for the surrounding wind farms in both countries.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The transmission system operator 50Hertz from Germany and Energinet from Denmark are going together to connect offshore wind farms to the grid: The two companies want to sign a cooperation agreement on Tuesday to build a hub for the distribution of electricity from offshore wind turbines on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. The investment volume amounts to two billion euros.

With this project, you are laying the foundation for close interlinking of the electricity grids and wind power production in Denmark and Germany. Other countries bordering the Baltic Sea could join them.

The two companies call their project “Bornholm Energy Island”. The island is to become an “offshore hub”, i.e. a hub for the surrounding wind farms in both countries.

50Hertz and Energinet are breaking new ground. So far, offshore wind farms have been connected to the power grid of the country in whose waters they are located. There is no meshing across national borders. 50Hertz and Energinet are now changing that step by step. In doing so, they take into account the long-term goal of the EU and its member states to make the North and Baltic Seas the powerhouse of European electricity production.

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The two companies, which have been cooperating for years, already inaugurated the world’s first cable last year that integrates German and Danish wind farms together. With the Bornholm Energy Hub, they want to “go one step further and realize the first real power grid node for the Baltic Sea,” said Stefan Kapferer, CEO of 50Hertz, the Handelsblatt. “That is technically and economically demanding, but together we will master this challenge,” said Kapferer.

A more than 400 kilometers long direct current connection

The two companies had already signed a corresponding letter of intent at the beginning of the year. The next step towards implementation now follows with the cooperation agreement.

The core of the implementation is a more than 400 kilometers long direct current connection between the two countries. Bornholm lies in the geographical center of the connection. Converters, substations and a terminal for distributing the electricity are also to be built there. Among other things, the connection will be used to transport electricity generated in wind farms with a capacity of 2000 megawatts (MW) off the coast of Bornholm in Danish waters.

The two companies emphasize the economic benefits of their project. The stronger cooperation should raise considerable efficiencies. It should help to better use and distribute the electricity generated. It also makes it easier to balance the network and keep it stable.
In September 2020, the countries bordering the Baltic Sea, including Germany and Denmark, signed a joint declaration on cooperation in offshore wind power projects so that more space than before can be used for renewable energies.
On this basis, seven transmission system operators – including Energinet and 50Hertz – founded the “Baltic Offshore Grid Initiative” in December last year to help develop the wind energy generation potential of around 93 gigawatts (GW) in the Baltic Sea. In addition, the governments of Germany and Denmark agreed in December 2020 to cooperate even more intensively on the expansion of offshore wind energy.

Geographically convenient island

50Hertz and Energinet are now taking on a pioneering role. The Baltic Sea is predestined for this. Bornholm offers itself as a geographically favorably located island to build cross-border infrastructures.
Similar developments are emerging in the North Sea, but due to the more difficult conditions overall, they are not yet as advanced. For example, Energinet has signed an agreement with the Belgian transmission system operator Elia Transmission Belgium (ETB), which provides for the construction of a 600-kilometer submarine cable that will link two energy islands in the North Sea. Like 50Hertz, ETB belongs to the Belgian Elia Group. The cable is intended to connect wind farms off the coasts of Denmark and Belgium.

More: How the North and Baltic Seas are becoming the center of European power generation

Handelsblatt Energie Briefing

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