When a country charters the largest construction project in its history, it’s worth sitting up and taking notice. I highly recommend that you indeed sit up, grab a wienerbrød, and sip on a kaffe to best enjoy this post. Just to give you an idea why this is exciting – here are some examples of projects on the scale that I’ll discuss here (the largest in a country’s history):
- Crossrail (UK)
- US Interstate Highway System, or Hoover Dam (US)
- Three Gorges Dam (China)
- New city of Brasilia (Brazil)
- The pyramids at Giza (Egypt)
- The Panama Canal (Panama)
- Delta Works (Netherlands)
- Narmada Valley Development Project (India)
- Al Maktoum International Airport (Dubai)
Most of these are in the tens or hundreds of billions of dollars (or equivalent currency). That is a lot of wienerbrød!
So which country are we talking about here? Well, there was a hint in the title of the blog post, because that is (or is supposed to be) Danish. The story is about what is going to be a brand new Danish island, an Energy Island. Yes, you read that correctly – a brand new island in the North Sea, purpose built to generate and store power.
The island will be located about 80 kilometers off the coast of Jutland, the large peninsula which contains the Danish mainland (see map, source: https://ocean-energyresources.com/2021/02/12/north-sea-energy-island-can-make-denmark-and-belgium-electricity-neighbours/).
The cost? Oh, about 210 billion Danish krone ($33.97 billion). The benefit? It better be huge, with that sort of expense. And it is: the island’s turbines will produce enough energy to power 10 million homes in Europe, including, of course, the entire country of Denmark.
The construction project, believed to be the biggest in Danish history, will – aside from the construction of the island itself, no small feat – will build and link hundreds of wind turbines to deliver enough electricity for millions of households.
Have a look at this brief video for details and striking images:
What’s the rationale for this project? After all, you don’t just go building islands in the ocean for $30B for no reason. In this case, the rationale is directly traceable to Denmark’s Climate Act, in which the country has committed to an ambitious 70% reduction in 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and to becoming CO2 neutral by 2050. Last December it announced it was ending all new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.
When built, the island will supply both clean power to homes and green hydrogen for use in shipping, aviation, industry and heavy transport. The decision came as the EU unveiled plans to transform the bloc's electricity supply. The bloc aims to rely mostly on renewable energy within a decade while increasing offshore wind energy capacity roughly 25-fold by mid-century (Ecowatch, 2021)
From a project management perspective, what’s the time, cost, scope, value, and fit for this project? And the value?
- Time and cost: the planners hope to have the hub operable by 2033. The first phase of the project is expected to cost around 210 billion Danish crowns ($33.87 billion, €28.28 billion).
- the wind turbines will have a capacity of at least 3 gigawatts, ramping up to 10 gigawatts over time.
- Fit into program/portfolio: The energy island is an important part of country's legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 70% of the 1990 levels by 2030. The country also already has plans for a second such island, to be located in the Baltic Sea… a Portfolio of Islands!
- aside from the economic payback, this is a bold move to get the wheels turning (pun intended) on green energy. "Only by inspiring others and developing new green solutions they also want to use, can we really do something to combat climate change,'' Denmark’s Climate Minister Daniel Joergensen recently said (AP News, 2021).
Find more information about these projects here: