Belgium’s transmission system operator (TSO), Elia, has achieved a significant milestone by obtaining an environmental permit for Princess Elisabeth Island, which is set to become the world’s first artificial energy island located in the North Sea.
This pioneering project, with a total capacity of 3.5GW, aims to connect the UK and Denmark to Belgium’s electricity grid through additional interconnectors, combining both direct current and alternating current technologies. The environmental permit for Princess Elisabeth Island was granted by Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice and the North Sea, Vincent Van Quickenborne.
Construction for this groundbreaking project is slated to commence in early 2024, with an estimated completion timeline of approximately two years.
In February 2023, a consortium comprising offshore service providers DEME and Jan De Nul secured the engineering, procurement, construction, and installation contract for the project. This contract also encompasses the project’s design phase.
Elia is currently in the process of finalizing the project’s design, which is anticipated to be submitted later in 2023. Notably, the TSO has expressed its willingness to adapt the design to enhance biodiversity in and around the artificial island, underscoring a commitment to environmentally responsible development.
In June, an environmental permit was also obtained to construct caissons at the Verbrugge Zeeland Terminals at Bijleveldhaven. A total of 23 concrete caissons, each measuring 60 meters in length, 30 meters in width, and 30 meters in height will be transported to the offshore location and installed in 2024 and 2025. Once established, the island will undergo reclamation through sand fill, paving the way for installing electrical infrastructure.
Vincent Van Quickenborne emphasized the strategic significance of the Princess Elisabeth Island project in furthering Belgium’s position as a leading energy hub in the North Sea. He noted, “The first wind turbines will be commissioned in 2028, delivering additional offshore green energy for our families and companies.”
Additionally, he highlighted Belgium’s commitment to innovative and nature-inclusive designs, demonstrating the potential of renewable energy and the importance of safeguarding the marine environment.
The Princess Elisabeth Island project represents a pioneering step towards harnessing renewable energy sources in the North Sea, with the potential to reshape the energy landscape and contribute to a sustainable future.