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North Sea energy island can make Denmark and Belgium electricity neighbours

Published 12.2.2021 08.00
The Belgian TSO Elia and the Danish national TSO Energinet have signed an agreement to assess by the end of 2021 whether it is possible and advantageous to connect Belgium and Denmark with an electricity interconnection via the future energy island in the North Sea. The agreement to carry out the assessment has taken place in continuation of the political agreement concluded between the two countries’ ministers last week.

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 needs considerable offshore wind power

Like many other European countries, Belgium is busy with the comprehensive green transition of its energy system. 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.

In connection with the agreement, Chris Peeters, CEO of Elia, says:

-The realisation of the Belgian-Danish cable would be an important next step in making our electricity system more sustainable. 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.  

North Sea energy island a trans-European project

The energy island in the North Sea will be 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.

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% 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,” says Thomas Egebo, President and CEO of Energinet, adding:

“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.”

Energinet and Elia state in the agreement that they will cooperate on assessing the possibility of an interconnection between Belgium and Denmark based on the European objective of 300 GW offshore wind power in 2050.


 

On the agreement between Elia and Energinet

  • With the agreement, Elia and Energinet will carry out technical and cost-benefit analyses of a possible electricity interconnection between Belgium and Denmark via an energy island in the North Sea.

  • The analysis work is being carried out following the political cooperation agreement that was reached between the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities and the Belgian Federal Minister of Energy on 4 February 2021, and involve closely coordinated cooperation between the two countries’ ministries.

  • Initially, the agreement is bilateral, but the parties will remain open to the possibility of other countries in the region being able to participate in the cooperation in future.

  • 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.

  • With the agreement, the energy island in the North Sea is now central to the cooperation between three countries and the assessment to identify possible international connections: Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The cooperation concerning possible interconnections to Germany and the Netherlands is taking place under the auspices of the international consortium North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH).  


 

Energy island in the North Sea

  • An energy island is a hub for large volumes of energy from offshore wind power. From the energy island, the energy is converted and forwarded to several countries.

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

  • The energy island in the North Sea needs to be established by 2033, if possible before. By this point, it must be ready to deliver 3 GW of offshore wind power, increasing to 10 GW in the 2030s. 

  • The investment expense of the North Sea energy island is estimated to total EUR 28 billion, which includes 10 GW offshore wind farms, electrical installations on the island and power transport cables to land.