Our future energy supply faces numerous challenges and has become subject to unstable international conditions. To meet these challenges offshore wind has a key role to play. Offshore windpower can contribute significantly to achieving the EU goals of a 21 percent share of renewable electricity by 2010, halting global warming and reducing our dependence on coal, oil and gas.
We have come a long way since the 1980s, when most electricity production was based on coal and when the acidification of forests and lakes by acid rain was the predominant theme in the environmental debate. Today wind power provides 20% of Danish electricity consumption. Within a few years, the wind power industry has grown to become a significant industrial sector providing huge benefits for exports and employment. We are now talking about windpower generation plants rather than single turbines, and the Danish wind power industry is at the leading edge in an ever more competitive global market.
In the energy strategy for 2025 the Government expects to see a significant increase in the use of renewable energy in the years to come. The market-based expansion of this sector will be brought about through incentive schemes and investment in physical infrastructure as well as research-, development- and demonstration. With higher oil prices and high CO2 allowance prices we expect that a significant proportion of the renewable energy expansion will be delivered by large, offshore wind farms. At sea, wind resources are better and suitable sites are more readily available to enable these large projects to operate in harmony with the surrounding environment.
We are therefore very pleased that the Danish environmental monitoring programme on large scale offshore wind power has received a positive evaluation by the International Advisory Panel of Experts on Marine Ecology.
To sustain public acceptance and provide continued protection to vulnerable coastal and marine habitats, it is important to build upon the positive experience gained so far with the use of marine spatial planning instruments.
Offshore Wind farms impact on their natural surroundings and it is essential to ensure that conditions in unique marine areas are not detrimentally affected. Spatial planning when identifying potential locations for offshore wind farms – taking into account grid connection routes and other areas of interests – must ensure that future offshore wind farms are established in suitable areas in such a way that substantial adverse environmental impacts can be avoided or diminished. One of the challenges we face is to assess the cumulative effects from multiple off shore wind farms to arrive at optimal site selection.
Thus a committee on future offshore wind farms is currently updating the Danish action plan from 1997 to use the experience and learning gained to date in order to identify appropriate locations and at the same time to minimise visual disturbances and the effects on animal species such as marine birds and mammals.
This publication describes the Danish experiences with offshore wind power and discusses the challenges of environmental issues that Denmark has had to address in relation to the two large-scale demonstration offshore wind farms Horns Rev and Nysted since 1999.