Denmark was the first country in the world to install an offshore wind farm in 1991 and since then remains the front-runner of the sector.
On April 19, the Danish government announced a proposal to reserve one-third of the country’s marine waters for offshore wind generation, an idea that the Danish Fishermen’s Association says needs a rethink. Wind power, both at sea and on land, provides much of Denmark’s electricity, but in both environments, there are competing uses for the locations of the huge turbines, their hard-to-miss blades, and the large bases that hold them up. In Denmark’s extensive Exclusive Economic Zone, offshore wind turbines collectively take up a lot of space on the sea bottom. Fishing operations near wind turbines are possible, but there are risks and fishing boats give each wind turbine a wide berth. The potential conflicts aren’t going away, because to meet the country’s electricity demand, more turbines are always being planned.
The government’s proposal to set aside a third of the country’s waters seems good for the wind power sector. But the competing interests in this case—the fishing boats who will be cut off from those waters—believe there must be a way for coexistence and are asking for dialogue with the government to find a compromise. The Danish Fishermen’s Association says wind turbines are, of course, needed for the green transition, but fishermen provide healthy, climate-friendly food and many jobs. A dialogue between the government and the two competing interests, the association states, can give the government better advice as to where to put wind turbines, rather than simply reserving huge swaths of ocean area for them. Environmental impact should also be considered, the association says. Collecting turbines all in one area could have severe consequences for marine ecosystems despite a lack of fishing. Spreading turbines around, and spacing them appropriately, according to fishing interests, allowing fishermen to operate near them, is feasible, without the severe plan the government currently proposes.