Elia and Energinet to study undersea high-voltage link with Denmark
Elia, the Belgian transmission system operator for high-voltage electricity, and its Danish counterpart, Energinet, have created a working group to analyze the feasibility of the planned 600-km-long underwater connection between the two countries.
Minister for Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen), announced plans to create an undersea electricity link and get access to the green electricity produced by the many wind farms on the Danish territory. It would help Belgium to decarbonize its energy-intensive industry and ultimately meet the European climate goals.
‘Largest construction ever’
Elia favors the project, and now the working group will analyze whether it will be technically and economically feasible to install a hybrid interconnector between the two countries. The results of the study should be ready by the end of this year.
On the Danish side, the project is “the largest construction project ever in Danish history”. It would even require to create two ‘energy islands’, an artificial one 80 km offshore in the North Sea; the other will be the existing island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. Both islands will export high-voltage electricity to the Danish mainland and some neighboring countries, like Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.
Elia earlier gained experience with undersea electricity links. The Belgian energy provider already has an underwater connection – called ‘Nemo’ – between Belgium and Great Britain. The project is a joint venture between British National Grid and Elia. The link has been fully operational since 31 January 2019.
Hybrid interconnections are the next step in greening the Belgian electricity system. Belgium will phase out its nuclear power generation in 2025, so the country will become more dependent on solar and wind power energy.
With a relatively small coastline and limited access to offshore wind power in the Belgian part of the North Sea, Belgium needs to import sustainable electricity on a large scale. Denmark intends to create an artificial ‘energy island’, and the project dovetails nicely with Belgium’s need to transition to green electricity.
In Energinet’s press release of February 12th, 2021, Elia CEO Chris Peeters said: “Thanks to the hybrid technology, we will 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 decarbonizing.”
Energinet and Elia state in the agreement that they will cooperate on assessing the possibility of interconnection between Belgium and Denmark based on the European objective of 300 GW offshore wind power in 2050.
Offshore wind energy
Danmark was the first country to build an offshore windfarm in 1991. Now the government is taking the next step into a new era of offshore wind energy. The islands are to become a kind of offshore power plants, collecting and storing renewable energy from hundreds of wind turbines in the area. The final goal is to produce up to twelve gigawatts (GW) and provide ten million families with renewable energy.