June 26, 2023

“The past year was a milestone in the history of Port Esbjerg”

Gade Header min

Got a question?

Karin rix hollander

Karin Rix Holländer

Executive Assistant MA

A port undergoing rapid change. Positive attention from all over the world. Gigantic perspectives for companies at the port. These were the three dominant topics at Port Esbjerg’s Annual Meeting held on 23 June. The chairman termed the past year ‘a milestone’, and the mayor of Esbjerg explained why Esbjerg has been called ‘the Dubai of northern Europe’. Port Esbjerg’s CEO pointed out that the deepening of the fairway may mean access to a new RoRo market.

Though it was a beautiful summer’s day and 25 degrees, more than a hundred people attended the Annual Meeting of Port Esbjerg at the Esbjerg Concert Hall on 23 June.

In his speech to open the meeting, the Chairman of Port Esbjerg’s Board of Directors, Søren Gade, talked about the tremendous attention the city had received from all over the world during the past year:

“We’ve had visitors from Taiwan, Australia, Poland and the Netherlands. From Sweden, the United States as well as India and Japan. They all came to be inspired by what we’ve created together here at Port Esbjerg. It’s very impressive,” he said.

He added that the port has developed into an international, multi-modal transport hub, which the port’s founders were unlikely to have imagined when the port was built in 1874.

Gade 1 Hjemmeside

People from Taiwan over USA to Sweden are inspired by Port Esbjerg, said Søren Gade, Chairman of the port's Board of Directors, at the Annual Meeting.

The Miracle at Esbjerg and the Dubai of Northern Europe

The mayor of Esbjerg spoke on the same topic in his speech. Throughout the year, he had himself spent a lot of time talking to foreign media.

The German magazine Der Spiegel wrote a long article about how district heating from a coal-fired power plant will be replaced by one of ​​the world’s largest heat pumps, calling it the ‘Miracle at Esbjerg’. Television station ZDF and the Die Welt newspaper both called Esbjerg ‘the Dubai of Northern Europe’. 

The New York Times wanted to know what we’re doing to transition a city to green solutions, and the highly regarded news magazine The Economist wrote about how the North Sea will become Europe’s new powerhouse with Esbjerg as its hub. NPR USA, the American counterpart to the BBC, told its 60 million listeners about Esbjerg's large seawater heat pump and the district heating project of the local utility company.

“And I could go and on,” said the mayor.

“Readers, listeners and viewers from all over the world have heard about Esbjerg, because in us they see visions and ideas that could inspire their countries and their cities. That makes me very pleased and very proud. It’s a compliment to all of you who are gathered here today, and recognition of everything that the City of Esbjerg, Port Esbjerg, the companies based at the port, our citizens and we as politicians have achieved and represent when it comes to offshore wind, district heating and other green solutions,” said Esbjerg’s mayor Jesper Frost.

“World-class achievement”

But the media was not the only source of attention. A visit from 44 MBA students from Harvard Business School had really impressed Port Esbjerg’s chairman.

One of the world’s leading professors in the field of green science headed the group. He explained that Esbjerg was the first destination on their list. This was the first time Harvard had sent students on a field trip to learn about the practical aspects of the green transition.

“Usually Harvard collaborates with and visits companies like Toyota, Tesla and the like. So the fact that the students and their lecturers are coming to see us is huge,” said Mayor Frost.

Søren Gade emphasised that the many visits by delegations and the coverage of the port by international media clearly indicate that Port Esbjerg has built a strong strategic position.

“That’s why the past year was a milestone for Port Esbjerg,” he said.

This was further confirmed when the leaders of the European Commission seated Port Esbjerg CEO Dennis Jul Pedersen next to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in the discussion panel on the green transition at the North Sea Summit in Ostend, Belgium. He was also invited to attend a government seminar with the Danish Prime Minister.

“What we’ve managed to create – all of us gathered here today – is a world-class achievement,” said Søren Gade.

The port is changing

At previous annual meetings of Port Esbjerg, the development potential has often taken centre stage. This time, the changes that are happening right now were also discussed.

“In previous years, I’ve talked about visits from heads of state, opportunities of becoming a NATO hub and about potential PtX and district heating solutions that could materialise well into the future. Today, I would say: Those perspectives are no longer mere future scenarios. They have begun to unfold,” said Mayor Frost, who had never seen so many changes at the port happen so quickly.

“One day, I see Port Esbjerg inaugurating a gigantic new warehouse facility that Siemens-Gamesa has moved into. The next day, I see a facility being built for Energinet. On a third day, I see steps being taken to expand the harbour. I believe that in just a few years’ time we’ll have a completely different port from the one we have today,” he said.

Dennis hjemmeside

There are lots of orders on the book in the coming years, said Port Esbjerg CEO Dennis Jul Pedersen.

Lots of orders on the book

Søren Gade reminded the audience that Danish offshore wind will soon be shipped out of Port Esbjerg once again, when components for the Vesterhav Nord and Vesterhav Syd wind farms are to be shipped, and when turbines will be shipped to the Thor wind farm in 2025. At the same time, Port Esbjerg is widely used for projects in the Netherlands and Germany.

CEO Dennis Jul Pedersen told the audience that the order book is well-filled.

“Today, 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 also continue to play an extremely important role in the green transition for our neighbours in Germany and the UK,” he explained.

Jul Pedersen added that the deepening of the fairway, which is expected to be completed in the spring of 2024, is not just about wind and NATO. The fact is that the ships that become able to call at Port Esbjerg also bring new perspectives.

“Last year, Europe exported goods to the USA at a value of USD 527 billion. Obviously, we would like to see a lot of that go through Port Esbjerg, and that’s what we’re planning for. In fact, we’ve made a commitment to the EU that the number of RoRo calls will be quadrupled over the next ten years,” said Jul Pedersen, emphasising that the RoRo segment will be a focal point for Port Esbjerg in the near future.

Port Esbjerg will be the first port in northern Europe to be able to accommodate the new, large installation vessels. The EU gave us a grant of DKK 211 million to deepen the fairway.

Continuing investments

Both Søren Gade and Dennis Jul Pedersen thanked the companies based at the harbour for their willingness to invest.

“We need to continue investing and innovating. And every one of the customers I talk to is absolutely ready to invest,” said Søren Gade.

He reminded the audience that the scale of growth expected within wind is virtually incomprehensible.

“The current installations out there total 15 GW. Plans are to build a total of 130 GW offshore wind by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050. That’s more power than all European households consume in a year,” he said.

And still there is more in the pipeline, because – as Søren Gade concluded his speech by saying – there are new markets all over the world.

“The many visits we’ve had this year show that many operators in the industry are looking our way. We need to help them, too. And we will,” he said.

Jul Pedersen also stressed that wind is certainly not the only growth area.

“We have wind projects. We have RoRo. We have CCS projects. We have P2X projects. We’ll be busy,” he said.

Mayor Frost added:

“In a few years’ time, it’ll be a very different port, and that will also have an impact on the city of Esbjerg. However, I believe the changes we can generate together will help make the city of Esbjerg and Port Esbjerg a place that will continue to be regarded as very special and will create a lot of jobs amid high-paced change. This will be for the benefit of everyone in attendance here today and for all current and future citizens of our city.”

Go to overview