June 23, 2023

Port Esbjerg CEO: Deepened fairway will bring even more large projects in the years to come

Dennis hjemmeside

Got a question?

Karin rix hollander

Karin Rix Holländer

Executive Assistant MA

“We’ll be really busy,” said CEO Dennis Jul Pedersen in his speech at Port Esbjerg’s Annual Meeting on 23 June. 10 GW of offshore wind has already been booked and with the new deepened fairway, the port will be able to attract new projects in the years ahead – within wind, RoRo and possibly exports to the USA. Read the full speech here.

When a broad majority of the Danish parliament concluded the North Sea Agreement in 2020, Port Esbjerg received a commitment of DKK 90 million in government support for large-scale offshore wind installation. The funds will not materialise until 2025, but they represent unique support from all political parties behind the North Sea Agreement.

Deepening the fairway is the most important factor in this context. Exports of Danish-produced wind turbine components to the rest of the world require Port Esbjerg to be able to accommodate even the largest vessels, because they offer the lowest cost per tonne of freight transported. In other words, there is a direct correlation between Port Esbjerg’s infrastructure and Denmark’s competitiveness in the production of wind turbine components.

However, big vessels are not only needed in the wind industry. One of the immediate requirements was for Port Esbjerg to be able to accommodate very large ships carrying US military equipment, meaning Port Esbjerg also plays a key part in Denmark’s role as a host nation to NATO.

Strategic and important location of Port Esbjerg

Therefore, last autumn we had the opportunity, once again, to apply for EU funding under the EU’s ‘Connecting Europe Facility’, because Port Esbjerg can be a dual-use facility, both for the military and as part of the Trans-European Transport Network, TEN-T. The EU application triggered a grant of DKK 211 million for Port Esbjerg, which will be spent on deepening the fairway.

In connection with the application, we argued that Port Esbjerg offers a strategic location for shipping modular goods to the USA, which is highly relevant because the USA is one of Denmark’s largest export markets. The statistics clearly reveal the importance of US purchasing power and the country’s trading with Europe, with exports last year at a value of USD 527 billion.

Of course, we would like to see a lot of these exports going through Port Esbjerg, and that is what we are planning for. In fact, we made a commitment to the EU that the number of RoRo calls would be quadrupled over the next ten years, so it is very important that we collaborate closely with our customers in this segment. However, RoRo will not be our only busy segment.

So far, more than 10 GW of offshore wind has been booked to be installed out of Port Esbjerg during the period to 2029. This involves offshore wind farm expansions in Denmark, Germany and the UK, which means that Port Esbjerg will continue to play an extremely important role in the green transition for our neighbours in Germany and the UK. In this context, deepening the fairway also plays an important role in accommodating the next generation of installation vessels at Port Esbjerg.

Deepening the fairway in a sustainable way

The last time, we had the harbour at Esbjerg deepened was in 1993, and now it has become necessary again. We hope the deepening currently planned for will have as big an impact and drive as much growth at Port Esbjerg over the next thirty years as we have experienced since 1993.

Although, there is a clear difference between then and now, because this time, we will deepen the fairway in a more sustainable way, putting the materials dredged to use elsewhere. The sand fraction to be dredged, amounting to almost three million cubic metres, will be used to complete the ongoing port expansion, and the half million cubic metres of clay to be dredged will be used to construct dikes against the Wadden Sea.

Key location and a key role in the green transition

Obviously, deepening the fairway is a very big project for Port Esbjerg, but there are also other large projects under way in the years ahead. The location on the North Sea coast means that we will have a crucial role in the green transition going beyond the initial 10 GW offshore wind to be installed from the quays at the East Harbour.

In light of the many installation projects, our area has also become attractive for the production of offshore wind components, and most recently Port Esbjerg was selected for the construction of jackets for offshore wind projects in the USA. Of course, we will continue our efforts to attract more production to the Port Esbjerg area.

More funds and more labour under way

All of these plans draw the obvious question of where the money and the labour for large-scale offshore wind projects will come from. We are fortunate that also in this respect, we are enjoying a fair wind, because there is growing interest in investing at Port Esbjerg. 

There is a lot of construction going on in the harbour area, generating the sense that something momentous is about to happen here. Therefore, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the many companies building and investing at Port Esbjerg.

When it comes to attracting labour, we believe that some of the people coming off the redevelopment of the Tyra field next year, having secured Denmark’s supply of gas for many decades to come, might be interested in taking part in manufacturing or installing offshore wind turbines. I know that many good people are working on that.

Climate challenges and green fuels

Speaking of oil and gas, the industry is already working hard to contribute to solving the climate challenges. The CCS projects are quite interesting in this context, because the port plays an important role here as well. It will be possible to store between 400 and 700 times more carbon in the North Sea than Denmark will need to store, so CCS may well come to play an extremely important role in solving the climate crisis. Port Esbjerg plans to play its part by building terminals for handling carbon.

Lastly, I would like to mention the very large P2X projects, because they fulfil two very important functions in the green transition. The production of green hydrogen fits hand in glove with the Esbjerg Declaration, which describes the desire to establish 20 GW production capacity across Europe by 2030. Once again, Esbjerg is at the forefront of green initiatives, but in this context, it is the production of green ammonia that is attracting the most interest.

Green ammonia can be used to produce green fertilisers and marine fuels, among other things. Green fertilisers can contribute to even more climate-friendly food production in Denmark and more attractive products – which we hope will be shipped via Port Esbjerg, of course, and perhaps transported on ships powered by green ammonia.

We note in this connection that orders have been placed for RoRo vessels that will be powered by green ammonia, and therefore, as a port, we must also have the facilities for bunkering fuels of the future. If a port is to serve as a green fuel station in the future, we will need to study how best to do that and to make plans accordingly. However, this is another area where we cannot do it alone.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their constructive collaboration in the past year. Thank you to our many customers, our owners, the Board of Directors, our Advisory Board, our politicians, the authorities and many, many other stakeholders with whom we maintain a dialogue to help shape the big plans for Port Esbjerg.

Go to overview