Belgium this week granted environmental permits for a North Sea energy island and work will begin in March next year with a view to completion in August 2026.
The aim of the Princess Elizabeth energy island, which is being developed by utility Elia Group, is to channel electricity generated by some 3.5GW of future offshore turbines to the Belgian grid. The island will also act as a relay for other wind energy zones in the North Sea.
Located about 45km off the coast, it will be about 6ha in size, equivalent to 12 football pitches. As well as electrical infrastructure and transmission lines, it will have a small harbour and a helicopter pad to allow maintenance crews to access the island.
They will be designed and constructed by TM Edison, a joint venture between Jan De Nul and fellow Belgian company Deme, which specialises in land reclamation. Elia selected the team in February.
Edison has already begun work on making the concrete caissons that will form the periphery of the hub. Each is around 60m long, 30m wide and 30m high and will be towed to the location of the island in the summers of 2024 and 2025. When complete, the interior will be filled with sand.
According to Elia Group, the island will have a “nature inclusive design”, to be presented later this year. The project was reviewed with external experts to determine what elements could be adapted or added to promote biodiversity on and around the island.