Denmark's North Sea adventure 'on hold', says trade body

DENMARK: The government has reserved vast areas of Danish waters for the potential development of offshore wind projects, but the industry association said the move would damage the state's objective of becoming the 'silicon valley' for offshore wind.

The government has reserved new zones (blue) for future potential offshore development

Energy minister Lars Christian Lilleholt unveiled the areas that have been set aside for the government to procure offshore wind capacity at some time in the future.

"Wind resources in Denmark belongs to all Danes, and therefore they must benefit all Danes," the minister said.

Lilleholt said the move was the result of the Danish Energy Agency recently receiving a number of applications from private companies to conduct feasibility studies for offshore wind projects.

"Such private reservation will greatly reduce the possibilities of the government procurement [of offshore wind] in the future," the ministry said in a statement. It could also mean the government misses out on some tax income.

"After the reserved areas have been published, applications can no longer be submitted by the open door scheme in those regions," the ministry added.

Lilleholt said following the energy agreement over the summer, backed by all of Denmark’s major parties, the government would research areas for potential offshore wind deployment.

"Before we deliver some of the world's best wind resources, I will ensure that we have an overview of how our all-inclusive resources benefit the community — exactly as we have seen with the North Sea oil and gas industry, which has contributed more than DKK 400 billion (€53.6 billion) to the Danish treasury," Lilleholt said.

The Danish Wind Industry Association (DWIA) said the move "puts a stop of the green North Sea adventure".

The association’s political director, Martin Risum Bøndergaard, said the analysis work on future offshore wind zones, as under the agreement, has not yet started beyond identifying which sites could be used.

Stopping private companies from launching their own investigations risks slowing down the rollout of offshore wind, he warned.

The industry would be happy to "contribute to the growth of Denmark", Bøndergaard added.

"But that assumes Denmark is maintained as an attractive market for investors who put money and jobs into Denmark."

"The plan for state-controlled expansion, and paying tax on offshore wind, is ill-conceived and rhymes poorly with Denmark’s climate goals and ambition, particularly that North Sea should be the Silicon Valley of offshore wind," Bøndergaard concluded.