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Will Copenhagen’s Eco-Friendly Man-Made Islands Pay Off?

The Danish capital is expanding its land mass and creating climate resiliency. But is it sustainable?
A rendering from designers Urban Power of the proposed archipelago at Hvidovre
A rendering from designers Urban Power of the proposed archipelago at HvidovreUrban Power for Hvidovre Municipality

In a bid to create new space for green industries and fossil-free energy production, greater Copenhagen wants to build an entirely new business and infrastructure district on the city’s southwestern edge. Instead of taking up existing land, it would be constructed just off the coast as a new archipelago of islands known as Holmene (“the islets”) that would possess more than 740 acres of new land upon completion. Located in the suburban municipality of Hvidovre, the islands would also serve as a flood barrier protecting the coast, their green fringes and reed beds stretching out towards small islets that would act as an effective sponge for storm surge.

Announced earlier this month, the grand scheme would be constructed gradually using earth excavated during construction work and expansion of the Metro system, whose City Circle line should open in summer 2019. Each new island would be initiated only when the existing land has been allotted for use, a process that could take as long as half a century. Overall, the site could also cut Copenhagen’s carbon footprint, as the islands are also planned to host what would be Northern Europe’s largest waste-to-energy plant—an Urban Power-designed facility which could convert trash into enough electricity to meet 25 percent of Copenhagen’s needs.