Belgium and Denmark Probing North Sea Energy Island Link

Belgian and Danish transmission system operators, Elia and Energinet, have signed an agreement to assess the possibility of connecting the countries’ grids via the energy island in the North Sea.

The two TSOs will, by the end of 2021, carry out technical and cost-benefit analyses of the interconnection project.

At the beginning of 2022, the assessment will enable a decision to be made on whether the cooperation will evolve into a more binding agreement in the period leading up to the establishment of the connection.

The agreement to carry out the assessment has taken place in continuation of the political agreement concluded between the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities and the Belgian Federal Minister of Energy on 4 February.

Following the signing of the agreement between Elia and Energinet, the energy island in the North Sea is now central to assessing three possible electricity interconnections to Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Energinet is already cooperating with German and Dutch colleagues on looking into similar international connections.

If the electricity interconnection between Denmark and Belgium becomes a reality, it will pass through the offshore waters of four different nations, and will probably be the world’s longest DC high-voltage cable.

Belgium is phasing out all its nuclear power generation in 2025, and its green energy system of the future will therefore become dependent on energy from solar and wind power.

With a relatively small coastline and limited access to offshore wind power in the Belgian part of the North Sea, Belgium needs to import green energy on a large scale. In this way, Denmark’s plan to build an energy island in the North Sea dovetails well with Belgium’s need to make the transition to green energy, Energinet said.

”The realisation of the Belgian-Danish cable would be an important next step in making our electricity system more sustainable,” Chris Peeters, CEO of Elia, said.

”It would be the first time that our country is connected to a new electricity market that is further away than our neighbours. Thanks to the hybrid technology, we will also have direct access to large-scale wind farms in the far northern North Sea with a different meteorological dynamic than off our coast. This will ensure a higher level of security of supply and help our energy-intensive industry to continue decarbonising.”

The Energy Island

The energy island in the North Sea will be an artificial island consisting of one or more types of caissons 80 kilometres off the Danish coast, and initially covering an area corresponding to 18 football pitches.

Related Article

The island needs to be established by 2033 or sooner, if possible. By this point, it must be ready to deliver 3 GW of offshore wind power. The island’s capacity will be increased to 10 GW in the 2030s.

The project will require an estimated investment of EUR 28 billion. This includes 10 GW of offshore wind farms, electrical installations on the island, and power transport cables to land.

This makes the energy island Denmark’s largest-ever construction project. However, it is equally significant that the energy island as a concept heralds a new era for large-scale offshore wind power in the European green transition, Energinet said.

An era in which the expansion of offshore wind has, from the very outset, been all about redeeming the potential of offshore wind power, and help Europe as a whole towards ultimately 100 per cent green energy consumption.

”An electricity interconnection between Denmark and Belgium via the energy island in the North Sea will be an outstanding example of how the enormous offshore wind resources can benefit the green transition, not just for countries with a long coastline, but also for large consumers on the European continent,” said Thomas Egebo, President and CEO of Energinet.

”I’m delighted to be signing this important and exciting cooperation agreement with Elia. Belgium will become a completely new electricity neighbour for Denmark. However, our cooperation with the Belgians rests, among other things, on the shoulders of the good and innovative collaboration we’ve had with 50Hertz Transmission GmbH on establishing Kriegers Flak, as 50Hertz is a company under the Elia Group.”

Photo: The Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities