Thomas' studies sent              him back to bornholm -        and kickstarted a dream

Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer

Energy Island Bornholm is opening up to teach engineering students on the island, in close contact with other actors developing sustainable energy.

Text: Miriam Meister

Bornholm has been known as the ‘sunshine island’ all of Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer’s life. However, the 22-year-old could well be one of the people who make his native island just as well known as the ‘wind island’ in the future.

He has just completed a bachelor’s degree in Design of Sustainable Energy Systems from DTU. During his studies, he became aware of the enormous, untapped potential for harvesting renewable energy from the wind in the Baltic Sea via the planned energy island on Bornholm—and the job opportunities it will foster.

Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer and a few fellow students have just been working on solving the challenges of sending power from offshore wind turbines ashore in the best, safest, and most cost-effective way, as part of a case study for Ørsted last semester.

“It was interesting to have to immerse ourselves in the subject in a relatively short time and then apply the theory we had learned in our studies so far. We also quickly discovered how many things you have to think about in practice when designing a system on this scale,” says Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer.

His studies at DTU have opened Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer’s eyes to the fact that a diploma documenting skills in sustainable energy transition could be the key to getting a job where he can really make a difference in the world—and perhaps even on his native island.

“I would really like to go back and live on Bornholm again,” he says.
“Given how much development there’s going to be, it’s a real dream scenario. There are huge future opportunities—not just for me, but also for Bornholm.”

The island has become a beacon for the green transition, as is evident by the EU award Bornholm received in 2020 when it was named Europe’s green island number one for its contribution to a more climate-friendly Europe through its ambitious sustainable energy development.

The award recognizes the extensive work to restructure the energy supply, which many players have contributed to since Bornholm in 2008 adopted the Bright Green Island vision of being CO2-neutral by 2025 and fossil-free by 2040.

Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer
Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer

“Given how much development there’s going to be, it’s a real dream scenario. There are huge future opportunities—not just for me, but also for Bornholm.”
- Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer


Focal point for collaboration

Together with his fellow students, Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer went on a study trip to Bornholm in his sixth semester to learn more about the possibilities for powering the island sustainably. Not only using wind energy, but also by utilizing solar energy and biomass.

DTU’s plan is for students to test the knowledge they acquire in the auditoriums in future on a larger scale through field trips to the island. This will take place in part in a residential college DTU is in the process of setting up in Rønne in collaboration with partners such as the Danish Centre for Green Energy.

The new residential college will be located in Rønne’s disused power station, which will provide the setting for teaching the students and their encounters with the companies they will be working with.

For Professor Joachim Holbøll, who is head of studies for the Design of Sustainable Energy Systems programme, it is an ideal opportunity to gather people under one roof.

“If you really want to have good contact—more spontaneous and on a daily basis—you have to be close to each other,” says Joachim Holbøll.
“The more feedback students get along the way about whether they are on the right track, the more useful the results will be.”


Rønne power plant
Rønne’s disused power station will be renovated and become home to the Danish Centre for Green Energy, where DTU’s students and researchers will also reside in the future residential college. (Photo: Pelle Rink)

Inspiration for companies

Joachim Holbøll believes it is important that students get the opportunity to apply their knowledge, so they get better at determining whether ideas have potential and identifying what it will take to implement them.

“We really want it to be as realistic as possible for the students, so the innovation process does not become a theoretical experiment but something that actually has applications in real life,” he says.
Thomas Vibe Hoffmeyer also sees exciting potential in the students being based in a residential college where knowledge meets reality.

“I definitely think that companies can be inspired by the fact that we come in and see the challenges from fresh angles. We are more likely to say, ‘wouldn’t that be great’, without being coloured by long frustration that something cannot be achieved. And we don’t get fired for coming up with an idea that is too bold, so we have a little more leeway to be innovative,” he says with a smile.

• In collaboration with municipalities, companies, and other Danish universities, DTU aims to establish a number of residential colleges as settings for closer cooperation between universities and companies.

• During the first phase, DTU is working to establish a knowledge and learning environment in Rønne with a focus on Bornholm as an energy island, in Rødby with ties to the construction of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link, and in Skive with links to the GreenLab Skive research park.

• During a pilot phase, the framework for teaching will be established first, and students will be offered accommodation in the local area. After the pilot phase, DTU expects that the residential colleges will provide both teaching and accommodation facilities for students and staff.


Joachim Holbøll

Joachim Holbøll Professor, Head of Studies Department of Wind and Energy Systems Phone: +45 45253515 Mobile: +45 24404238