Technical University of Denmark: Bornholm to become international hub for green technologies

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A new partnership will help to drive development of the technologies needed to transition the Baltic energy system, as well as that of the wider world, to renewable energy. This partnership involves a number of stakeholders from the private, state, and municipal sectors, in addition to DTU. They have all combined forces to establish a commercial foundation on Bornholm called Baltic Energy Island.

The need for knowledge and the development of our energy systems is significant. The Baltic Sea, with Bornholm at its centre, offers enormous potential for offshore power that can be exploited through the establishment of energy islands. This is reflected by the energy summit being held on the island of Bornholm on 30 August which will bring together leaders from the countries surrounding the Baltic to discuss how to secure independence from Russian energy and turbo charge the green transition.

“Access to energy from wind farms and testing facilities where researchers, businesses, and the authorities can interface are crucial to the shift to renewable energy. This is the reason we have banded together with a number of other partners to get Baltic Energy Island off the ground. With the foundation as the coordinating organization, Bornholm will become a leading international innovation hub in the development of green technologies and energy islands,” says DTU professor Jacob Østergaard.

He points out that the current establishment of energy islands is meant to both support security of supply and secure the transition to sustainable forms of energy. Bornholm will be the first place in the world where an energy island is set up on a large scale. This will take place in 2030 with a wind farm capacity of some 3 GW.

There are also plans being made for an energy island in the North Sea. The ambition is that the two energy islands will supply power generated by offshore wind to electric cars, heat pumps, households, and businesses, while in the long term also converting the power into hydrogen and other fuels that can be used by aircraft, ships, and lorries by connecting batteries and Power-to-X technologies to the energy islands.

Knowledge and learning environment
Baltic Energy Island’s partners are DTU, Ørsted, Siemens Gamesa, Energinet, Bornholm Regional Municipality, the electricity supplier Bornholms Energi & Forsyning, and the Port of Rønne. The launch of the foundation has also seen the establishment of a national partnership featuring participation from a number of authorities under the leadership of the Ministry of Business, Industry, and Financial Affairs.

Under the auspices of Baltic Energy Island, the partners will work across several main areas: The development of Bornholm as the Baltic’s centre for offshore wind, the development of Bornholm as the Baltic’s green transportation hub, and the use of Bornholm as a test island for renewable energy. As part of this, the partners will establish opportunities for testing and developing technologies for energy islands and Power-to-X as well as for training engineers so that they become part of the green transition—just as the partnership will help other regions and countries with the transformation of their own energy systems and societies.

Additionally, a growth and innovation house is to be established at Rønne power station, where learning dividends from testing and development activities will be applied in a partnership between students, researchers, and businesses with the aim of creating innovative and green business models. In this respect, DTU’s work includes efforts to set up a knowledge and learning environment—a Residential College where students and researchers will be able to stay and work with Bornholm’s energy system while taking courses that are related to the surrounding business community, doing internships, or writing up projects or MSc theses in collaboration with local businesses.

Educating more engineers across the country
Baltic Energy Island is a good fit with DTU’s strategy, which seeks to educate more engineers who can develop sustainable solutions to reduce the impact of climate change and secure the balanced utilization of resources. The initiative also underlines DTU’s ambition to be present across Denmark.

“We have a unique opportunity to develop technologies for the energy system of the future. This is something that we must do together. We will be working across sectors, research institutions, and national borders, and Baltic Energy Island will serve as a strong platform for that work,” says DTU’s President, Anders Bjarklev.

DTU already has a number of projects based on the island of Bornholm, including the experimental platform PowerLabDK, which is a collection of experimental facilities for electricity and energy that see DTU laboratories connected to the Bornholm energy system. This allows researchers to monitor and collect data related to the production, distribution, and consumption of energy on Bornholm, and to manage experiments on the island relating to things such as the utility grid, battery storage, and electric cars, thus providing them with valuable knowledge about how to develop a cohesive, intelligent energy system.

The establishment of Bornholm as an energy island and as the hub in a new offshore energy system in the Baltic will also afford new opportunities for innovation, according to Jacob Østergaard:

“The prospect of Bornholm as the world’s first energy island delivering 3 GW of wind energy is an interesting one, because it means we can get up and running very quickly. We will have the chance to test different control methods, Power-to-X, and lots of other things in a flexible environment that is already functioning as a real-life energy laboratory.”

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