The world’s first artificial energy island, Princess Elisabeth Island, will be constructed by the Belgian consortium TM EDISON, which includes DEME and Jan De Nul. The project involves the installation of high-voltage infrastructure necessary to transport electricity from Belgium’s future offshore wind zone to shore. Additionally, the island will be the first building block of an integrated European offshore electricity grid that will connect various hubs and countries together, allowing Belgium to access massive amounts of renewable energy needed to make the industry less dependent on fossil fuels.
The tender process for the island began in January 2022, and the Belgian consortium TM EDISON was selected as the winner based on technical quality, commercial and contractual conditions, and safety measures. DEME and Jan De Nul, known for their expertise in dredging, land extension, coastal protection, and civil engineering, will handle the construction of the island’s foundations, which will begin in early 2024 and take approximately 2.5 years.
Princess Elisabeth Island will be the world’s first artificial energy island to combine direct current (HVDC) and alternating current (HVAC), and will serve as a hub for future interconnectors with Great Britain and Denmark, facilitating the exchange of electricity between countries and connected with gigantic offshore wind farms in the North Sea. The energy island will be located about 45 kilometers off the coast, will be about 6 hectares in size, equivalent to about 12 football pitches, and will be constructed from concrete caissons filled with sand.
The project has received funding from the European Covid Recovery Fund, and the Belgian government has awarded the island with a grant of approximately €100 million. Construction of the island will start in early 2024 and continue until August 2026. The design of the island can now be finalized, and the caissons will be built and installed in 2024 and 2025. The island’s base will then be raised and prepared for the construction of the electrical infrastructure, which will be connected to the new offshore wind farms and with the Elia onshore grid. It is essential that the Ventilus and Boucle du Hainaut grid reinforcement projects are realized at the same time to deliver additional electricity to consumers. Elia aims to ensure that all wind farms are fully connected to the mainland by 2030.
“This project is a pioneering one for several reasons. It is the most cost-effective and reliable way to bring offshore wind to shore. It will be an island that provides options for the future. When we connect it to other countries, the Princess Elisabeth Island will become the first offshore energy hub. After our construction of the first hybrid interconnector in the Baltic Sea, the island is another world first. It solidifies Elia Group’s position as a company that is at the cutting edge of technology, which is necessary for the energy transition.” – Chris Peeters, CEO Elia Group
“We are looking forward to working together to achieve this technical tour de force. The construction of the world’s first artificial energy island reaffirms our country’s expertise in realising complex projects at sea. The focus for TM EDISON lies in qualitative execution that involves the lowest possible carbon footprint and the rising water level of the North Sea.” – Luc Vandenbulcke, CEO DEME Group
“As a company, we are proud to put our weight behind this project through which we, as a Belgian consortium, can support our country to achieve its climate objectives. Belgium is a front-runner in the field of offshore wind energy. We are making this clear once again by constructing this energy island. The combined experience of Jan De Nul and DEME as offshore specialists in dredging, rock armour and offshore energy is an absolute added value.” – Julie De Nul, director Jan De Nul Group
“Belgium has been a pioneer in offshore wind power for 15 years and is once again demonstrating its expertise today through its first energy island – which is also a world first. Our offshore expertise is now recognised worldwide. By continuing to innovate, we are also strengthening our position for the future. We are giving our Belgian companies another chance to be true pioneers, both here and abroad. So we are once again highlighting our country on the world map.” – Tinne Van der Straeten, Federal Minister of Energy
“The North Sea will become the engine of our energy independence. The Princess Elisabeth Island will be an essential link in this. Our country has long been a pioneer in the field of offshore wind power with companies such as DEME and Jan De Nul, which are world leaders. They are proving it once again with these plans for the world’s first energy island. It is thanks to their expertise and their role as global pioneers that we can accelerate the energy transition together.” – Vincent Van Quickenborne, Federal Minister of Justice and the North Sea
“With vision, ambition and good interactions between government and business, Belgium has established itself over the past 20 years as one of the world leaders in the development of offshore wind energy. Just as they did in the beginning, Belgian companies now have the opportunity to take the mead with regard to the next developments. The multifunctional energy island – which is being subsidised by €100 million under the Recovery and Resilience Plan – will be the first of its kind. The expertise acquired by DEME Group and Jan de Nul Group during its construction can be shared around the world to contribute to a lower carbon, more sustainable and more resilient economy as we combat climate change. Our knowledge and know-how constitute the Belgian export product par excellence.” – Thomas Dermine, Secretary of State for Recovery