Permit granted for world's first energy island off Belgium's coast

Permission has been granted for the world’s first energy island, which will be built in the North Sea off Belgium, grid operator Elia announced on Tuesday. The environmental permit means that work on Princess Elisabeth Island can begin in March 2024.

Minister for the North Sea Vincent Van Quickenborne has approved the permit for the project, calling it “an essential link in our future energy supply”. The island – an extension of the electricity grid – will be built 45 km from the coast and will act as an energy hub to link new wind farms and future interconnections with the UK and Denmark to the Belgian onshore grid.

In Vlissingen, in the Netherlands, a consortium of Belgian companies DEME and Jan De Nul has already started work on building the caissons, or concrete foundations. Each caisson is approximately 60 m long, 30 m wide and 30 m high and will be towed to the location of the island in the summers of 2024 and 2025. The project will be coordinated from Ostend.

"It is important that we take marine life into account, both above and below water"

Elia is also putting the finishing touches to its “nature-inclusive design” for the island, which it will present this year. The design has been assessed by external experts to determine additions or adaptations to encourage marine biodiversity on the island and in the surrounding area.

“The energy island will become an offshore wind energy hub that will provide green, affordable energy for our families and companies,” said Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten. “It is important that we take marine life into account, both above and below water.”

The island will cover about 6 hectares in the middle of the Princess Elisabeth zone, an area of the North Sea set aside for new wind turbines. Work is expected to be completed by August 2026.


#FlandersNewsService | Illustration of Thornton Bank wind farm, off the coast of West Flanders © PHOTO IMAGEBROKER

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