Belgium plans to build an artificial island in the North Sea aimed to store wind energy, trying thus to lessen its reliance on nuclear power, as it intends to completely exit from nuclear power in the near future. The construction of the island in the North Sea will have a donut form and will be made out of sand, in a move that will be able to store some of the excess power generated by extensive offshore wind farms in the area.
The island will be built 3 km (1.3 miles) off the Belgian coast, near the town of Wenduine, and could be completed by 2018. It also would work as an offshore substation to transform the voltage of the electricity produced by wind turbines.
The surplus of wind energy stored at the North Sea plant could be sold, because they will have it ready at the moment when electricity demand will increase in peak hours.
In 2011, Belgium produced about 57% of nuclear power, but Electrabel, the division of France's GDF Suez, shut down two of its reactors last year, so Belgium hopes that the new wind project on the North Sea island will be able to produce at least 2,300 MW.
Currently, wind accounts for less than 4% of installed electricity production, while a 2011 report from the European Wind Energy Association expected that Belgium would quadruple its wind capacity by 2020.
For more information, visit www.ewea.org.