Construction of world’s first energy island given the all clear

The energy island will become an offshore wind energy hub that will provide green, affordable energy, according to Belgium-based Elia

Belgium-based Elia has secured the environmental permit for the construction of the world’s first artificial energy island. Princess Elisabeth Island will serve as a hub connecting offshore wind farms and interconnectors to Belgium’s onshore power grid, said the firm which is a transmission system operator (TSO).

A consortium comprising two Belgian marine construction companies, DEME and Jan De Nul, will undertake the island’s construction and have already begun site preparation activities in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. They will first construct the concrete foundations, known as caissons, for Princess Elisabeth Island, which will be located 45km from the Belgian coast, a statement from the firm noted.

“Belgium is a leader in offshore wind. It is accelerating the energy transition via a fourfold increase in offshore wind capacity in the Belgian North Sea, the construction of an energy island and new interconnectors with countries which surround the North Sea,” said Tinne Van der Straeten, Belgium’s Federal Minister for Energy.

The island’s construction is expected to last two years, commencing in March 2024 and concluding in August 2026. The recent grant of an environmental permit for the construction of caissons at Verbrugge Zeeland Terminals in North Sea Port signals the project’s progression, the firm added.

During construction activities in Vlissingen, project coordination will be conducted from Port Oostend, with logistics and engineering operations moving to the newly renovated Stapelhuis warehouse in early November 2023. The project is expected to create approximately 80 jobs.

A spokesperson for Elia stated, “The energy island will become an offshore wind energy hub that will provide green, affordable energy for our families and companies. It is important that we take marine life into account, both above and below water. It is good that Elia is continuing to focus on Nature Inclusive Design.”

Once completed, Princess Elisabeth Island will be the world’s first artificial energy island to combine direct current (HVDC) and alternating current (HVAC). The high-voltage infrastructure on the island will consolidate export cables from wind farms in the new Princess Elisabeth Zone, while simultaneously serving as a hub for future interconnectors with the United Kingdom (Nautilus) and Denmark (TritonLink).

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