Denmark plans 'Silicon Valley' on 9 artificial islands off Copenhagen

Space in Copenhagen is limited, so the Danish government wants to reclaim land from the sea around the capital city. The head of the country's employers' association says it could help create a "European Silicon Valley."

The Danish government revealed plans on Monday to build nine artificial islands by 2040 to house a new industrial zone off the southern coast of Copenhagen.

Dubbed Project "Holmene," the islands are designed to bolster the capital's attractiveness in the eyes of international businesses and could result in the creation of some 12,000 jobs, Interior Minister Simon Emil Ammitzboell-Bille said.

"We will stand stronger in international competition to attract business, investment and highly qualified labor," he said.

Read more: Google leaves Berlin campus after anti-gentrification demos

Business | 18.05.2018

Denmark's 'Silicon Valley'

The government said the project, which still requires parliamentary approval, would alleviate a shortage of land in the Danish capital, by creating:

  • 3.1 million square meters (33 million square feet) of new land
  • Space for up to 380 new businesses
  • 700,000 square meters of nature
  • 17 kilometers of new coastline
  • More than $8 billion (€7.2 billion) in economic activity

Climate changes Germany's coast

The shape of things to come on Germany's coast?

At the moment, water levels in Germany's North and Baltic Seas are not rising any faster than usual, but scientists say the process is likely to speed up in the coming decades. Exactly when, and by how much, is uncertain. And that complicates the work of coastal defense authorities.

Climate changes Germany's coast

Feat of engineering

Over the centuries, the hundreds of kilometers of dikes along Germany's coastline have become higher and more sophisticated. The latest incarnations are called "climate dikes" and are especially designed to be able to hold back higher waters brought about by warming temperatures and rising sea levels.

Climate changes Germany's coast

Houses on tiny hills

One time-honored way populations under threat from higher sea levels have sought to secure themselves, has been to build their homes on small mounds. On the so-called Hallig islands, it is not uncommon for these embankments to be all that is left above water during a storm surge.

Climate changes Germany's coast

Cod off to cooler waters

Unlike sea-level rise, an increase in temperatures in Germany's North and Baltic Seas is already palpable. Scientists say both bodies of water are around 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than in the 1960s. This shift in conditions has had an impact on several species, including cod, which have begun to migrate north in search of the cold in which they thrive.

Climate changes Germany's coast

Heading for the heat

At the other end of the scale, anchovies are increasingly making a home for themselves in the North Sea off Germany. The species is usually found in more southerly climes, but the warming temperatures are attracting them to new waters.

Climate changes Germany's coast

Mud flats in danger

The Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage Site is also at risk from the predicted sea-level rise. It serves as a resting place for millions of migratory birds traveling between the Arctic and warmer regions to the south. Because it is so rich in food, the birds stop there for several weeks at a time to build up fat and energy reserves for their onward journeys.

Climate changes Germany's coast

Life in the salt marsh

While few plant species can survive the salty waters that regularly flood the marshes between the Wadden Sea and the dikes, the environment is alive with tiny insect species and birds that nest at ground level.

Climate changes Germany's coast

Drowning dinner

If the sea level were to rise too quickly, the Wadden Sea's characteristic mud flats would no longer be exposed at low tide. That would have huge implications, not only for the birds that rely on the ecosystem for food, but for the ecosystem itself.

The government hopes to begin construction on the first islands in 2022. It would finance the endeavor by selling plots on the islands, Business Minister Rasmus Jarlov said.

The head of Denmark's employers' association, Brian Mikkelsen, welcomed the plan. He told Denmark's TV2 television that the islands could spur the emergence of a "European Silicon Valley."

Read more: Hong Kong protesters decry plans for artificial islands

Denmark's fondness for artificial islands

One of the nine islands is designed to house a waste conversion plant, which would transform refuse from the capital into biogas, as well as hold cleaning waste water and store energy from windmills.

Copenhagen is located on two islands, Zealand and Amager. Authorities have expanded the city's border multiple times in recent decades by creating artificial islands.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen announced plans in October to build a separate artificial island off Copenhagen's coast that would host housing projects and bolster the city's flood defenses in the face of rising sea levels.

amp/rt (dpa, Reuters)

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