World's first-ever artificial energy island to be built in the North Sea
Elia, an electricity transmission system operator, is building an artificial island in the North Sea to function as an energy hub. In addition to connecting offshore wind farms with the mainland, it will also connect to the electricity grids of neighboring countries.
As countries look to achieve net-zero status for carbon emissions, renewable sources of energy sources are going to be a crucial part of their plans. Given the disadvantages of intermittency, renewable sources of energy need to be connected in large grids to ensure that the energy supply can be maintained to match the demand.
Interesting Engineering has previously how countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands are banking on solar power to meet the majority of their energy demands. Countries like England, Scotland, and Norway are tapping into the winds of the North Sea as part of their renewable energy approach.
An artificial energy island in the North Sea
Belgium-based Elia also plans to build an energy island in the North Sea as a means to connect its offshore wind farms in the Princess Elisabeth Zone to its mainland. Located 28 miles (45 km), the Princes Elisabeth Zone is Belgium's second offshore wind zone and has a planned capacity of 3.5 GW.
Spread over an area of 108.5 square miles (281 square kilometers), the zone consists of three separate areas which will host the offshore wind parks off the Belgian coast. The energy island planned by Elia will centralize energy produced by Belgian offshore wind farms and supply it to the mainland via undersea cables. Additionally, it also aims to become the landing point for two hybrid interconnectors between the U.K. and Denmark, a company press release said.
To bring up the island, Elia plans to construct an outer perimeter wall with a series of concrete structures on the seabed and then fill up the area with sand. Infrastructure for energy transmission will be built upon this, while high walls will protect the structures from strong waves, wind, rain, and flooding.
The island will also feature a port and helipad that will allow staff to visit and carry out maintenance activities. Electricity transmission infrastructure, such as AC substations, will also be built to minimize energy losses. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024 and is expected to be completed by 2026. Connections with wind farms and the mainland are scheduled to be completed by 2030.
A new study by Dr. Michael Wong of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Caltech’s Dr. Stuart Bartlett proposes a possible solution to the Fermi Paradox.