Watch the world’s first artificial energy island being built

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The first of 23 caissons for Princess Elisabeth Island, the world’s first artificial energy island, is nearly complete.

Princess Elisabeth Island will be an electricity grid at sea that will connect offshore wind farms to the Belgian mainland and also serve as a hub for future interconnectors with the UK and Denmark. Belgian electricity transmission system operator Elia is the project’s developer.

The 20,000-ton caissons, which will form the energy island’s outer walls, are being built at Jan De Nul Group and DEME’s construction site in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. It takes around three months to build one caisson. The production process is split into five 20-day stages. The caissons are moved between the different work sites using “runners,” which takes about six hours. 

When the caissons are ready, a semi-submersible vessel will transport them further down the harbor, where they’ll be temporarily stored in the water. They’ll then be moved to their final location in the North Sea this summer, weather allowing, said maritime infrastructure company Jan de Nul.

You can watch a time-lapse video of Princess Elisabeth Island’s first caisson being built here:

Princess Elisabeth Island is part of the larger Princess Elisabeth Zone, a future 3.5 gigawatt (GW) offshore wind farm in the North Sea, around 45 km (28 miles) off the Belgian coast. The world’s first artificial energy island will receive power from the wind turbines via undersea cables, and it will then be converted to high-voltage electricity and distributed to the Belgian mainland and other European countries. The energy island will combine both direct current (HVDC) and alternating current (HVAC).

The energy island will be finished in late 2026 when the electrical equipment will start to be installed. Princess Elisabeth Island is expected to be fully connected to all wind farms and the mainland by 2030. 

Read more: 2023 was a record year for wind power growth – in numbers


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