The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Elia, the operator of the Belgian high-voltage grid, have concluded a EUR 100 million loan agreement which will be used primarily for financing the Stevin project.
The Stevin project will enable Elia to bring ashore the wind energy produced at sea and the optimal integration of the future energy-exchange with the UK via the Nemo project.
These two projects enable both the integration of large quantities of renewable energy and an integrated European electricity system and thus support the reliability of the Belgian electricity system, EIB said.
The Stevin project shall, among other things, enable the integration of large quantities of offshore wind energy thanks to a double, 47-kilometre 380 kV line that runs via Zeebrugge to Zomergem and distributes the generated electricity across the Belgian electricity network.
The construction is in its final stage, as the infrastructure is currently being tested and will be put into service at the end of 2017.
The Nemo-link project shall also connect to the Stevin route; it is Belgium’s first interconnector with Great Britain which is being built in collaboration with the British transmission operator National Grid.
Catherine Vandenborre, CFO of Elia, said: “The energy transition means that more and more thermal power-plants that emit CO2 are replaced by wind and solar energy. We consequently need more transport capacity to bring renewable energy to the consumer. Stevin will as well enable the interconnection with the UK, which gives Belgium an even more central role in the European energy system.”
After the project is completed, offshore wind energy will be better integrated into the Belgium energy supply and via the connection with the UK, surplus production can be better traded from 2019 onwards, EIB said.
Pim van Ballekom, Vice-President of the EIB responsible for Belgium, said: “Since 2009, the EIB has invested more than two billion euros in renewable energy in Belgium, for example in the recently completed Nobelwind wind park near Oostende. It is important that this energy is transmitted as efficiently as possible to the national network and that is what this loan is all about.”