Public meetings could set the direction for large electrical facilities on Bornholm

The first plans for the large electrical facilities to be built on Bornholm will only be ready to be presented to and discussed with local citizens in 2022. But here in autumn 2021, Bornholm residents can already provide input into how the general plan for the Baltic Sea energy island should be environmentally assessed. Input which could set the direction for how large electrical facilities can be built on the island and integrated into the surroundings.

Read this in Danish.

Even though the first cornerstone will not be laid before 2024, the basic principles will start to take shape during the next 6-12 months. 

Early discussion of the facility

Marian Kaagh, Vice Director of Energinet Electricity Transmission, is therefore encouraging Bornholm residents to turn their attention to the large electrical facilities Energinet has to build on the island in connection with the Baltic Sea energy island. The Danish Parliament has decided that Bornholm will play an important role in connection to this energy island.

“We are still far from making specific suggestions about the appearance or location of the large facilities, where to bring the cables ashore, etc., but we do know that there will be very large facilities which will be highly visible in the landscape. It is therefore a good idea to discuss some general principles at an early stage, such as whether the electrical facility should be hidden from view or showcased and used actively in connection with the green transition,” she says. 

Kaagh is aware that a large electrical facility of this type can give rise to very different discussions and considerations than if it was to be placed on a flat ground in for example Jutland:

How will a large high-voltage facility affect such a relatively small island? How will it impact life on the island? Can it be blended into nature? And interplay with the cultural heritage? Is it disruptive, or can it help to put Bornholm even more on the map? 

Public meeting in November

So even though the design of the future energy island is still in its earliest phase, Marian Kaagh encourages Bornholm residents to look at the strategic environmental assessment idea phase for the plan for the Baltic Sea energy island, which the Danish Energy Agency is launching later this year. Or even attend the public meeting on the energy island to be hosted by the Municipality of Bornholm on 29 November 2021. Information will be presented at the public meeting on the facility and the process leading up to its construction. 

“The more ideas and suggestions that come in during the early phase, the better we can create a holistic solution for such a large facility,” says Marian Kaagh.

And it will be large. In order to create an energy island with large-scale offshore wind power and interconnections to Zealand and one or more neighbouring countries, a large converter station will be needed. This will convert the power generated by the many future offshore wind turbines into direct current. This is necessary in order to transport the electricity to Zealand and neighbouring countries. 

In the few other places in Denmark where similar facilities have been installed, converter buildings more than 20 metres high, 130 metres long and 45 metres wide have been built. Such a building can be found in Endrup near Esbjerg, where the interconnection between the Netherlands and Denmark connects to the Danish electricity grid.

The picture: Converter station in Endrup near Esbjerg. The converter station on Bornholm will be of the same type and contain the same technical elements, but it will be several times larger.

A similar facility, with a slightly different appearance and dimensions, can be found in Tjele near Viborg, where the Danish and Norwegian electricity grids are connected. An even larger facility is under construction in Revsing near Vejen in mid-Jutland, where a future interconnection between the UK and Denmark will connect to the Danish electricity grid. 

Facility adapted to Bornholm

Adjacent to all the large converter substation buildings there are outdoor areas containing high-voltage installations covering several hectares. This will also be necessary on Bornholm.

“Energinet has to build the large electricity transmission system that will form part of the energy island, but we do not live on Bornholm or have local knowledge about the things that are important to Bornholm and its residents. It could be the best idea to conceal such a large facility behind trees and windbreaks. Or, it could be best to design it to be very visible, with a viewing platform outside the fence, so residents and visitors can drop by to learn more about the energy island. Or perhaps Bornholm’s history and unique natural heritage needs to be incorporated,” says Marian Kaagh.

“Helpful suggestions and ideas need to be submitted early on, and set the direction for the best way of adapting the facility to Bornholm. There is much greater leeway when suggestions arrive during the early phase, rather than after the project has started to take shape."