In the ongoing battle against climate change and the transition to sustainable energy sources, Belgium has announced ambitious plans for the construction of the world's first energy island: Princess Elisabeth Island. The island, spanning five hectares 45 kilometers off the coast of Ostend, promises to accelerate the energy transition in Europe.
The primary objective of Princess Elisabeth Island is to quadruple the capacity of offshore wind energy, thereby making a significant contribution to Belgium's and Europe's energy supply by 2030. The grid operator Elia has developed ambitious plans to achieve this goal. The island will serve as a hub between the offshore wind farms of the second offshore wind zone and the onshore high-voltage grid.
At the core of the project will be high-voltage infrastructure, including export cables from wind farms and interconnectors with Great Britain and Denmark. This infrastructure will be housed in concrete caissons filled with sand, creating a stable foundation for electricity transmission. In addition to these technical aspects, the island will also feature amenities such as a small harbor for maintenance crews and a helideck to provide access to the island.
Focus on safety and environmental protection
One of the most notable features of Princess Elisabeth Island is its focus on safety and environmental protection. With recent developments such as the situation surrounding the Nord Stream pipelines, the need for stringent safety measures is clearer than ever. The Belgian government has introduced new legislation to tighten these measures, including sea surveillance cameras, the use of drones, and meticulous monitoring of foreign vessels in Belgian waters. Additionally, regular safety analyses will be conducted by competent authorities to ensure that the island and its surroundings remain safe for humans and nature.
In addition to the technical and safety aspects of the project, Princess Elisabeth Island will also have a positive impact on the environment. The island will serve as a breeding and resting place for birds, preserving and protecting their habitat. This demonstrates Belgium's commitment to promoting biodiversity and protecting vulnerable ecosystems in the North Sea.
While the project entails significant costs - estimated at around 450 million euros for the construction of the island and a total investment of two billion euros - it is seen as an investment in the future of sustainable energy in Europe. With construction scheduled to begin in 2024 and expected to be completed by mid-2026, Princess Elisabeth Island will mark a milestone in the fight against climate change and the transition to a clean, renewable energy future.
Overall, Princess Elisabeth Island promises to be not only a technological marvel but also a symbol of cooperation and innovation in the battle against climate change. With the capacity to transform Europe's energy supply and pave the way for further development of offshore wind energy, this groundbreaking project will have a lasting impact on the future of sustainable energy.
North Sea Summit
On 24 April 2023, nine countries met in Ostend – at the invitation of the Belgian government – for what was referred to as a North Sea Summit. After all, the North Sea offers enormous potential for wind energy that we are not yet sufficiently tapping. This can only be done efficiently if several countries join forces.
In the Ostend Declaration, nine European countries commit to making the North Sea the largest green energy power plant in the world. Target: 120 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and at least 300 GW by 2050. Belgium will play a key role.
The key word here is 'interconnectivity'. Insofar as possible, the wind farms of the various countries should be connected by a cable network. As such, electricity surpluses can be smoothly passed on and shortages efficiently replenished. After all, it is always blowing somewhere, but not everywhere at the same time.