New wind farms (e.g. Rentel, Northwester 2, Mermaid, Seastar) will be able to connect to the Belgian grid in a cost- effective and reliable way.
The board of directors of Elia has approved the investment for an “electricity plug” or “modular offshore grid” (MOG) in the North Sea. The choice for a modular offshore grid is of strategic importance for the future of Belgium in terms of its participation in the further development of renewable energy in the North Sea.
With this decision, new wind farms (e.g. Rentel, Northwester 2, Mermaid, Seastar) will be able to connect to the Belgian grid in a cost- effective and reliable way. The modular offshore grid also creates opportunities for future offshore development and interconnections with neighbouring countries.
The modular offshore grid includes an offshore platform to provide connections to the new wind farms. This will be located approximately 40 km from the coast of Zeebrugge. Three 220kV submarine cables will link the platform with the Stevin substation in Zeebrugge, so that the produced wind energy can be injected in the Belgian onshore grid. The total installed capacity of the next four wind farms Rentel, Northwester 2, Mermaid and Seastar is expected to amount to 1030MW
Chris Peeters, CEO of Elia commented: “This is a very important step for Elia. The modular grid is a first building block of a future North Sea Grid and will expand our activities in Belgium from onshore towards offshore. We are proud to be able to contribute to the further integration of renewables and to help Belgium to meet the European climate objectives. The modular grid can generate opportunities for the economy, help to develop new technologies, and this all leads to the creation of high quality jobs.”
The modular offshore grid is scheduled to be taken into use in the third quarter of 2019. Elia already performed seabed survey campaigns to investigate soil conditions along the cable route and at the platform location. A detailed design of the offshore platform is currently being undertaken and other tenders for the main construction contracts are ongoing.
The estimated total investment for Elia will amount to 400 million euro. This amount includes all the construction works by Elia, as well as the acquisition of part of the assets built by Rentel. Once the modular offshore grid is constructed, Elia will own and operate the offshore assets.
Benefits of a modular offshore grid
The construction of a modular offshore grid represents not only an advantage today, but it will also create valuable opportunities for Belgium's position in future offshore development. The benefits of the modular offshore grid versus a direct connection are multiple. It allows the wind farms connected to the modular offshore grid to inject wind energy directly into the Belgian grid, even when there is a loss or failure of one of the offshore cables.
Because of its modular character, construction of the offshore grid can be phased and synchronised to the different time schedules of the individual wind farms. It is also more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly. Additionally, the modular offshore grid facilitates a reduction of the total cable length by 40 km, and as a result, it will lessen potential disturbance of the seabed and undersea life.
For more information, visit www.elia.be.
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