Belgian Energy Island Gets EUR 99.7 Million Boost, Foundation Work to Start in 2024
The Belgian Federal Government and Elia Transmission Belgium (Elia) have signed an agreement on a EUR 99.7 million grant that Elia will use to build the foundations for the Princess Elisabeth Island, deemed a key link for unlocking offshore wind potential in the Belgian North Sea.
The grant is part of the financial support offered up under the Recovery & Resilience Facility (RRF), established by the European Commission to support investments and reform measures which will enable Member States to strengthen their economies after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elia will use the funding to build the energy island’s foundations, composed of concrete caissons filled with sand. Work on the foundations will start in 2024 and is scheduled to be completed by 31 August 2026.
The funding will be distributed in several installments to Elia as project milestones are reached, such as the completion of the island’s design, the granting of the environmental permit, and the start of the work on the caissons.
“The energy island will provide access to new wind farms from the Belgian North Sea and wind energy from Denmark and the United Kingdom. Thanks to the energy island, we will strengthen our energy independence, lower our bills and reduce CO2 emissions”, said Tinne Van der Straeten, Belgian Federal Minister of Energy.
As reported earlier, the island’s high-voltage infrastructure will bundle the wind farm export cables from the Princess Elisabeth zone together, while also serving as a hub for future interconnectors with the UK (Nautilus) and/or Denmark (TritonLink).
Of the EUR 99.7 million, EUR 1 million will also go to third-party projects that will contribute to encouraging biodiversity at sea, for which a call will be launched with the Minister of Energy to decide which projects will be considered as part of this.
These third-party projects will be delivered in addition to the Nature Inclusive Design approach that Elia has chosen to adopt for the Princess Elisabeth Island and is currently working on with a group of experts. Different measures and modifications to the design of the island will reduce its impact on the marine environment and improve local biodiversity, Elia states.
As for the island itself, the work on the tendering process is ongoing, as is the preparation of the environmental impact assessment, the preparation of the licensing process, and the application for a domain concession.
After the foundations are constructed by mid-2026, the installation of the electrical infrastructure on the energy island will begin. The construction of future offshore wind farms will be organised by the Government through tenders.
The linking of the wind farms to Elia’s grid is related to the commissioning of onshore grid reinforcement projects; more specifically, the Ventilus and Boucle Du Hainaut projects. Elia is aiming for full connection capacity by 2030, the Belgian transmission system operator said.
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