Solar power has stunned the sunshine island Bornholm

February 2, 2017

Island-energy: In 2520 Bornholm will be completely carbon neutral – without additional windmills on shore. Bornholm’s Energy & Utility analyzes alternatives on their own simulation tools, and the first results shows that the electricity grid is capable of containing more solar cell than expected

-       We must provide the system with additional knowledge and experience. It is vital and luckily we are well under way.

CEO Rasmus Sielemann Christensen from Bornholm’s Energy & Utility is insistent and you sense that he wants to spread the word: That it is vital to increase the level of knowledge in the company and to Bornholm’s entire electricity system.

Bornholm is located in the Baltic Sea with a great distance to the mainland of Denmark and therefore Bornholm is connected to the Swedish electricity system. Every now and again, the submarine cable fails to function and every one of Bornholm’s 40.000 citizens are completely isolated.

-       It makes us vulnerable and our electricity grid must be functioning. We are doing an in-depth analysis on how to get a better and prolonged uptime through service/maintenance and new facilities, Rasmus Sielemann Christensen says.


Bornholm’s municipality, which owns the utility company, has declared the island for “Bright Green Island” to attract new citizens and tourists – by creating growth and workplaces, they are trying to avoid a downward spiral for the island.

The local politicians have set a goal that the island has to be completely carbon-neutral by 2025. The task has become even more difficult, after it was decided that no additional windmills can be constructed on the island, in order to protect Bornholm’s unique nature. Thus, the majority of the municipal council had excluded one of the cheapest carbon-neutral solutions – and Bornholm’s Energy & Utility was plunged into unknown territory

-       We gladly take on the responsibility for establishing sustainable solutions. We have a simulation tool with data, for both energy consumption and energy production. We use it to measure how far we can come without extra wind power, and we have already learned important lessons. I.e. do we have a lot more space for solar power than we expected and that solar power cells fits better into the energy system than anticipated, says Rasmus S. Christensen.

The simulation tool are further used for network planning of the groups electricity grid operators, Bornholms El-Net, as well as for research and development in collaboration with PowerLab at DTU and EcoGrid 2.0.


 The long-term security consistency of supply at Bornholm and other areas with a high dependency on renewable energy supplies relays on the flexible of its consumers. Therefore, there have been great expectations to the EcoGrid2.0, where 1000 households on Bornholm have made their heat pumps and electricity heaters disposal for tests with the intelligent controlling of tomorrows electricity system, where the mix is based on biomass power as a substitute for variating production of wind power and solar power.

 Whether Bornholm will reach their climate goal in 2025 is uncertain, but the islands own electricity and district heating supply has been reach. Windmills covers nearly 90GWh every year and solar cells contribute with nearly 10GWh. The important combined heat and power plant in Rønne has switch over from carbon to sustainable bio mass and therefore most of the electricity consumption (230GWh) is covered by green electricity. District heating of the island is typically being produced by local woodchips and straw, which is – in a climate perspective –  acceptable.

Many of the household on Bornholm are still heated by furnace and the transport sector is still run by gas and diesel even though electric cars seems to be very suitable for the typical Bornholm driving pattern. If Bornholm wants to achieve their goal, of being carbon neutral in 2025, the electricity sector has to compensate with extra carbon free production… and solar power plant could be the solution.

-       Bornholm is the sunshine island of Denmark. We have more shining hours than the rest of the country, but whether or not we should focus on solar power plants is a decision for the politicians. Technically, it fits well in our utility system, says Rasmus S. Christensen, who from a financial perspective can get great advantages from the price development on solar cells. The latest call for tender in Denmark was won by solar cells, which has to deliver electricity for only 12,3øre/kWh above the market price.

Traditionally Bornholms electricity companies have owned the islands production plant, but Rasmus S. Christensen are open for more collaboration with external product developers.

-       It is more important for us to consolidate a great collaboration with the power plants and a high security of supply than to own the power plants, he says


The multi utility company Bornholms Energy & Utility is a result of a newly merging of the two companies Østkraft and Bornholms Forsyning.

New company – new strategy:

-       We have assembled the research and developing activities in one department and the reason is to start thinking across different traditional parts of supply and make a positive spillover effect on our operations…. But not necessarily in the short-term, says Rasmus S. Christensen, and he points out that the company has become a part of an international project about smart controlled electrical cars: Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G).

Together with an international partner Bornholms Energy & Utility has achieved  a lot with simulating the possibilities of battery technology in relation to the electricity grid, and attempts on combining solar cells – and battery plants can be the next step. According to the director participation in that kind of research, development and demonstration can create knowledge jobs and energy- and climate tourists to the island.

As said: We are in full underway of getting more knowledge into the system, Rasmus S. Chrsitensen says.
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