Belgium to build "world's first" artificial energy island by 2026
The Princess Elisabeth Island will be built off the Belgian coast by 2026. This should become an energy island in order to provide Belgium with electricity generated by the many wind turbines in the North Sea.
The construction of this artificial energy island —a world first, according to high-voltage operator Elia— is part of the government's plans to increase the capacity of our offshore wind energy from 2.2 gigawatts today to 8 gigawatts in 2040.
The island will be 45 kilometers off our coast and will cover five hectares. It will be in the middle of the Princess Elisabeth zone, an area that is planned in the North Sea to build new wind turbines, next to the existing ones.
The island will stand on the seabed with concrete elements, will be filled with sand and a 10 to 20 meter high wall will protect the infrastructure against waves. The island will also have a harbor, and helicopters will be able to land there.
Elia, the operator of the Belgian high-voltage grid, hopes that construction can start in 2024. The island should be ready by 2026. The necessary infrastructure would then be installed until 2030 and be fully operational by then.
The energy island will have a dual role. It will not only bundle all the power generated by the new offshore wind turbines, but it will also become a central connection point for future new interconnectors, for example, high voltage submarine lines with Great Britain and Denmark.
"The island will thus become a European hub for offshore wind energy", says Elia. Through the Princess Elisabeth Island, our country will therefore in the long run be connected to the many gigantic offshore wind farms that are planned in the North Sea. "The island will also bring energy from other parts of the North Sea to our country," explains Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen).
The construction of the island has a price tag of 450 million euros. The cost of all infrastructure together - not just the island but also all interconnectors and cables - will amount to more than 2 billion euros. Those are preliminary estimates. The cost is borne by the consumer.
"We have seen that energy is used today as a weapon. Every euro invested will more than pay for itself", Van der Straeten says.
Elia's CEO Chris Peeters goes in the same direction.
"The island must provide us with access to a cheap form of energy, and must help protect our prosperity and that of Europe," he says
© BELGA PHOTO (ERIC LALMAND)