Denmark's bold move - how we can contribute


The Government of Denmark on 30 May made a commitment to tendering up to 14 GW of offshore wind power, to be in operation by 2030. This tremendous expansion of Denmark's electricity generation capacity goes far beyond Denmark's current electricity needs.

While a significant increase in electricity consumption by households - for heating, cooling and transport purposes etc. - is forecast, the 14 GW alone could power the equivalent of some 14 million households. It is therefore envisaged that a significant portion of the 14 GW will go towards new Power-to-X (PtX) facilities, and to electricity exports.

This commitment is a bold and very welcome move, further accelerating the green transition, not just in Denmark, but elsewhere in Europe as well. It may well have further ramifications globally, for instance by accelerating PtX / green hydrogen production capacity expansion, thus enabling a faster conversion of shipping to sustainable hydrogen fuels. With moves like this - and especially if it swiftly catches on in much larger countries and regions, for Denmark is, after all, very small - there is still a slim hope that we can hit the target of a global temperature increase of 1.5C or less.Now, since all of this expansion of generating capacity is to be driven by the installation of new wind turbine generators (WTGs), and with new WTGs clocking in at a generating capacity of up to 15 MWs each, this will require the installation of slightly less than 1,000 new WTGs, but likely more. The new WTGs are very large, and use very much steel, particularly when the monopiles used for fixed-bottom installation are taken into account. Further, with the advent of floating WTGs, with heavy substructures, a very conservative estimate is that each WTG to be installed will weigh in at an average of 3,000 tonnes of steel alone. This would mean the installation of WTGs in the next few years weighing a total of some 3,000,000 (three million) tonnes, at least.

60-80% of WTGs' CO2 emissions over their lifetime come from the steel used in their manufacturing

It's a little-known fact that 60-80% of WTGs' CO2 emissions over their lifetime come from the steel used in their manufacturing, i.e. very early in the process. Normal, "black" steel emits some 2.4 tonnes of CO2 per tonne steel. So, if the wind industry were to use "black" steel for the manufacturing of all of these WTGs and their substructures, be they monopiles or floating foundations, a minimum of 7,200,000 tonnes of CO2 would be emitted in the manufacturing alone. Now, circular steel generally has a much lower CO2 emission per tonne, frequently quoted as 0.2 - 0.6 tonne of CO2 per tonne steel. However, these numbers do not necessarily take into account the full journey of scrap steel into the finished article to be used for manufacturing the WTGs and substructures. In our estimation, if the entire journey of scrap steel into new steel is taken into account, circular steel can with confidence come in at 1 tonne of CO2 per tonne steel, and frequently lower. So, using a very simple calculation, the offshore wind industry could save the athmosphere at least 4,200,000 of CO2 emissions, and very likely much more, if it were to commit to using circular steel instead of "black" steel for just the new 14 GW of generating capacity in Denmark.The wind industry is, of course, a relatively young one, and has understandably focused very strongly on building a commercially viable case over the past couple of decades. We believe the industry has now demonstrably succeeded in this, as evidenced by the latest wind auctions in Europe and elsewhere, and as shown by Denmark's new commitment. We therefore think it is time that the wind industry also sets its sights on becoming world leaders in within circularity. It could, of course, "just" buy "green" steel, but such steel generally only takes emissions in the steel plants into account, and not those from transport and other steps in the steel's journey. Further, if the "green" steel comes from new iron ore, we still get mining's destructive impact on biodiversity, landscape etc.

We at Renable can ensure that the wind industry gets certifiably circular AND green steel, all compatible with the new CSRD standards etc. Further, recycled steel from ships is of high quality, and will be in increasingly abundant supply in the next few years, and would thus be perfect for WTGs. And, think about it, that much WTG steel put out there now and in the next few years would mean the same volume decommissioned 25 years later. We would love to follow all that steel all the way back and around again into new WTGs.

Get hold of us HERE you want to know more about what we can do in respect of track & trace and supply of circular steel.