The Princess Elisabeth Island: the first building block of an integrated EU offshore grid
With ambitious climate targets to reach and pressing concerns about energy sovereignty to address, Europe is beginning to harness the full potential of renewable energy sources from across its seas. It is only through the quick and extensive development of offshore wind farms that Europe will be able to reach net zero by 2050.

The world’s first artificial energy island!
Belgium has been a pioneer in offshore wind for 15 years and is once again demonstrating its expertise through its first energy island – which is also a world first! The Princess Elisabeth Island is a pioneering project for several reasons. It is an innovative tour de force that combines both direct current (HVDC) and alternating current (HVAC). The island, located 45 kilometres off the Belgian coast, will act as a link between Belgium’s second offshore wind zone (3.5 GW) and the onshore grid. It will also be the first building block of the future European offshore grid, serving as an intermediary landing point for new interconnectors, including Nautilus (BE-UK) and TritonLink (BE-DK).

The most cost-effective and reliable way to bring offshore wind to shore
The island will give Belgium access to massive amounts of affordable offshore wind generation, will allow Belgium to trade renewable energy with other countries, and will enhance Europe’s interconnectedness. The Belgian consortium of DEME and Jan De Nul Elia awarded the EPCI contract for the energy island to DEME and Jan De Nul. Elements such as technical quality, as well as safety and commercial and contractual conditions played a significant role. In addition to a specialised fleet, DEME and Jan De Nul hold experience and expertise in the fields of dredging, land extension, coastal protection, and civil engineering.

Full offshore wind capacity connected by 2030
The construction of the island’s foundations will take place from 2024 to mid-2026, with the construction of the high-voltage infrastructure following soon after. In the meantime, offshore wind developers will start building their wind farms. The connection of these wind farms to Elia’s onshore grid is linked to the commissioning of two projects that aim to reinforce Belgium’s electricity backbone: Ventilus and Boucle du Hainaut. Elia aims to have the full capacity of the new offshore wind farms connected to its grid by 2030.

Seven tangible measures to enhance biodiversity
Based on input from a range of experts, Elia has developed seven tangible measures to boost biodiversity around the future energy island. For example, ledges attached to the outer storm walls will allow cliff-nesting birds such as the black-legged kittiwake to breed, rest, and recuperate. Below the waterline, several measures will be combined to create a diverse and rich artificial reef. The measures were selected based on their technical feasibility and expected positive impact. A scientific monitoring programme will be rolled out to follow up on the results of this unique project and adjust if necessary.