German and Danish TSOs Form Bornholm Energy Island Pact

German transmission system operator (TSO) 50Hertz and Danish TSO Energinet have signed a Letter of Intent to collaborate on the Bornholm Energy Island project in the Baltic Sea.

The Bornholm Energy Island would connect Germany and Denmark to an offshore hub with around 2,000 MW of wind power capacity that is planned on the island of Bornholm.

The German and Danish grids would be connected by means of an interconnector during the first phase of the development.

The electricity from the offshore wind farms surrounding Bornholm would be fed into this interconnector on the island. In the following phases, connections to other littoral states and offshore wind farms of the Baltic Sea would be developed gradually.

The two TSOs plan to carry out the studies before the end of the year to identify whether it is possible and advantageous to carry out the project

In the future, other partners from the Baltic area are expected to join this initially bilateral cooperation.

“For Europe’s energy future, the seas that surround us are of central importance,” 50Hertz CEO Stefan Kapferer said.

”Together with our reliable partner Energinet, we want to launch a new innovative project for the energy transition and climate protection. With this project, we are not only making technological progress, but must also break new regulatory ground for the transnational use and remuneration of the generated power together with policy-makers and the offshore wind industry.”

According to Denmark’s current plans, the wind farms will be constructed some 20 kilometres to the south and south-west of Bornholm, and connected to the offshore hub on the island via submarine cables. The Danish parliament specified a time frame until 2030 for these activities.

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An advantage of this project, compared to other planned offshore hubs, for instance in the North Sea, is that a natural island is already available, 50Hertz said. This makes it possible to efficiently and flexibly construct the installations. As a result, they will become an example for other hybrid projects and further offshore development.

“If we are to succeed in the massive expansion of offshore wind, which is necessary in the coming years to fulfil the Paris climate agreement, it is absolutely vital that a significant change of gear is now taking place,” Energinet CEO Thomas Egebo said.

”A change of gears from national expansion with individual wind farms to energy islands, which in essence are and only can be transnational projects.”

The agreement between the two TSOs is the first breakthrough for connecting the two Danish energy islands to other countries, Energinet said.

The Letter of Intent between 50Hertz and Energinet was preceded by several important political decisions. In September 2020, the littoral states of the Baltic Sea, including Germany and Denmark, signed a joint statement on cooperation in offshore wind power projects, so that more areas can be used for renewable energy than was the case until now. On this basis, seven transmission system operators founded the “Baltic Sea Offshore Grid Initiative” in December to help develop the wind power generating potential in the Baltic Sea of around 93 GW and a potential annual generation volume of over 300 TWh/year.

Moreover, the LoI between 50Hertz and Energinet was recently preceded by an agreement between the governments of Germany and Denmark to intensify cooperation in the development of offshore wind power.