If we want to win this game, the energy islands must provide value

15. July 2022

Energinet’s Vice President for Systems Development Stine Grenaa Jensen sees the energy islands as a unique opportunity to secure Denmark a future among the foremost energy supply of the green energy supply.

But we must create value if we are to reach our goal, she says.

“If we want to win this game, the energy islands have to provide value.”

In the future, so much electricity will be produced from the two energy islands in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea that it corresponds to an annual electricity consumption from 5 million households. There are plenty of challenges, and competitors are queuing up. But the gain is worth the effort.

In the Danish science fiction novel ’Håndbog for Vakse Galakseblaffere’ , a particularly gifted civilization builds a supercomputer to be able to ask it the greatest questions of all time:

“What’s the meaning of life, the universe, and all?”

The computer chews on the case for 7.5 million years before answering “42”, which confuses everyone since no one can remember what the question was.

If you were to find a literary model for the challenge that Energinet’s Vice President for System Development Stine Grenaa Jensen faces in her work with system integration of the two Danish energy islands, then ‘Handbook…’ could  be a good bet.

“An important part of my job is learning to live with the fact that we can’t calculate it all or plan for it. The moment we’re just roughly in place with a calculation, all the assumptions for those calculations have changed. I really need to concentrate on not starting over, but instead thinking modularly so that we move forward,” says Stine Grenaa Jensen.

Plenty to relate to

The Energy Islands are, if not science fiction, then at least engineering and energy infrastructure on a very large scale. For a start, they will deliver as much energy as all offshore wind turbines in Denmark together can produce today, and they must fully develop the cornerstone of a green, Danish energy system.

It takes huge amounts of new innovation to lift:

“The crazy thing with the energy islands is that every element requires a solution we have to invent,” says Stine Grenaa Jensen:

“There are challenges that come solely on the scale we do this in. There is infrastructure on the islands with several offshore HVDC facilities connected to several countries; there’s the handling of getting so much wind ashore and trying to keep the power grid stable when there’s only wind. There is plenty to relate to,” says Stine Grenaa Jensen.

Create value

Main challenge is the sum. To succeed in the project.

“Value creation is the crucial challenge, and sector coupling will be the innovation that will create it,” says Stine Grenaa Jensen:

“How do we develop the PTX solutions that will ensure that we create value from the islands? We need ammonia for shipping and fertiliser and hydrogen for trucks and jet fuel and district heating and much more, and there is not a sweet spot where everything is optimal,” says Stine Grenaa Jensen:

“We need to find the best compromise that makes it all provide optimal value. That’s probably the single biggest skill we need to develop,” she says.

Denmark has all the prerequisites to succeed. We have a lot of offshore wind, a lot of solar, a lot of biogas, control of the infrastructure and a transition-accustomed sector.

“It’s good for us. With that, I also say that if we can’t do that, Morocco or Australia or other countries are just as well placed to come up with something that is cheaper and better than us. If we want to win this game, the energy islands must provide value,” says Stine Grenaa Jensen.

“It’s a big plus for us to work with industry partners who are used to taking bigger risks than we are. The pace we need to get up to do the job requires that you dare to decide on a limited basis.”

Stine Grenaa Jensen, Energinet