4C Offshore Empowering Intelligence

DEME and Jan De Nul to build artificial energy island

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: Tom Russell 01/03/2023 DEME & Jan De Nul

The Belgian consortium TM EDISON, including DEME and Jan De Nul, has won the tender for the construction of what is poised to be the world’s first artificial energy island.

The construction of the foundations of the Princess Elisabeth Island will begin in early 2024 and will last 2.5 years. After that, the installation of the high-voltage infrastructure is scheduled to started. The latter will be necessary for bringing the electricity from Belgium’s future offshore wind zone to shore. The island is also designed to connect various hubs and countries together. For instance, Belgium wants to build additional joint interconnections with Great Britain and Denmark.

The Princess Elisabeth Island will be the world’s first artificial energy island that combines both direct current (HVDC) and alternating current (HVAC). The island’s high-voltage infrastructure will bundle the wind farm export cables of the Princess Elisabeth zone together, whilst also serving as a hub for future interconnectors with Great Britain (Nautilus) and Denmark (TritonLink). These are so-called ‘hybrid interconnectors’ that facilitate the exchange of electricity between countries and are also connected with offshore wind farms in the North Sea that will in due course provide energy.

The energy island will be located about 45 kilometres off the coast. The area set aside for the installation of the electrical infrastructure will be approximately 6 hectares in size, which is equivalent to about 12 football pitches. The artificial island will be located within the Princess Elisabeth wind zone and will be constructed from concrete caissons filled with sand. A small harbour and helicopter platform will also be provided in order to allow maintenance crews to visit the island.

The energy island has received funding from the European Covid Recovery Fund. The Belgian government decided to award the island with a grant of approximately €100 million.

Now that the construction contract has been awarded, the design of the island can be finalised. The construction of the island will start in early 2024 and will continue until August 2026. The caissons will be built and installed in 2024 and 2025. These will form the contours of the island. After that, the base of the island will be raised and prepared for the construction of the electrical infrastructure. It will be connected with the new offshore wind farms and with the Elia onshore grid.

In order to deliver the additional electricity to consumers, the Ventilus and Boucle du Hainaut grid reinforcement projects are to be realised at the same time. Elia aims to ensure 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,” said 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,” said 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,” commented Julie De Nul, director Jan De Nul Group.


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