Belgium planning artificial island to store wind energy in its search for a non-nuclear future

By Diarmaid Williams, International Digital Editor, Power Engineering International

North Sea Minister Johan Vande Lanotte is planning to build a doughnut-shaped artificial island in the North Sea that will store wind energy by pumping water out of a hollow in the middle, as it looks for ways to lessen its reliance on nuclear power.

"We have a lot of energy from the wind mills and sometimes it just gets lost because there isn't enough demand for the electricity," said a spokeswoman for the Minister. "This is a great solution," she said, adding she thought it could be the first of its kind.

Excess energy would be used to pump water out of the centre of the island, and then the water would be let back in through turbines when demand outpaces supply.

Vande Lanotte delivered a presentation on the subject at the Belgian port of Zeebrugge earlier this week, and it fits with the country’s objective of withdrawing from nuclear power, which currently accounts for 57 per cent of Belgium’s power.

Belgium hopes eventually to generate 2,300 MW from its network of North Sea wind farms, in order to accomplish the transition from nuclear.

The island is still in the planning stages, but will be built out of sand 3 km off the Belgian coast near the town of Wenduine if it gets the final go-ahead.

This article originally appeared in Power Engineering International magazine. It was republished with permission.

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