October 5 (Renewables Now) - Belgian electricity transmission operator Elia Group (EBR: ELI) on Tuesday unveiled draft plans for an artificial island in the Belgian part of the North Sea that will connect up to 3.5 GW of future offshore wind farms in the country’s second offshore wind zone.
Expected to start construction in 2024 and to be completed in mid-2026, this will be the world’s first artificial energy island, the company said.
Chief executive Chris Peeters described the project as a “big leap forward for the energy transition.” In addition to bringing offshore wind energy onshore, the island will serve as a hub for new interconnectors with the UK and Denmark and be the first link in a European offshore electricity grid, according to the announcement.
The island will be located almost 45 km (30 miles) off the coast in the up-to-3.5-GW Princess Elisabeth wind zone and will be called the Princess Elisabeth island. Work is underway on preparing the tender process and other procedures such as the environmental impact assessment.
The energy island expects a subsidy of EUR 100 million (USD 99m) from Belgium’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan.
Installation of electrical infrastructure on the island will start following completion of its construction. Elia said that the connection of the future wind farms to its grid is related to the completion of two onshore grid reinforcement projects and that it aims to achieve full connection capacity by 2030.
“Thanks to the very first energy island, new interconnections, three new wind farms in the North Sea and the repowering of the first offshore wind zone, we are transforming the North Sea into one big green power plant,” commented energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten.
Vincent Van Quickenborne, Minister for the North Sea, said that “following the acts of sabotage inflicted on the North Stream gas pipelines, it has become more crucial than ever for us to protect such critical infrastructure from sabotage and attacks.” The government is providing for measures such as the use of video surveillance at sea, drones and tracking of foreign boats in Belgian waters.
Denmarks is also working on plans for an artificial island in the North Sea.
(EUR 1 = USD 0.989)