The Flemish government and Elia have jointly proposed plans for ‘Ventilus’, a new high-voltage project to connect wind energy from the North Sea to a new electricity highway in West Flanders, Belgium.
In a few years’ time, Ventilus should connect additional offshore wind power generation, among other things.
By connecting additional renewable power generation to the grid through Ventilus, the Flemish government and Elia are taking a step towards a more sustainable energy system.
“Now that we have the approval, we are launching this ambitious project. Ventilus will help us to make the transition to sustainable energy. If we want to meet our targets, we must invest in
renewable energy in the next few years. This goes hand in hand with shoring up and further developing our power grid. Only then can we achieve the energy transition and provide consumers with a reliable power supply. The Flemish government is making every effort to guarantee a robust and smooth land-use planning procedure so that the offshore wind turbines in the North Sea can be connected in good time,” said Koen Van den Heuvel, Flemish Minister for the Environment, Nature and Agriculture.
Wind energy is Belgium’s biggest source of renewable generation (8% of the total energy mix) and there are specific plans to expand wind capacity with a second concession area for offshore wind in the Belgian part of the North Sea.
Ventilus will ensure that this additional electricity is transmitted from the North Sea to consumers onshore. There will also be a link with the existing Stevin line, which became operational in 2017.
In the long term, Ventilus will also make it possible to build a second subsea connection with the United Kingdom, alongside the existing Nemo Link project that became operational at the start of this year.
“It is vital that we meet the climate targets for energy supply while guaranteeing a strong, reliable power grid, but this poses challenges. Ventilus will give West Flanders a strong, cutting-edge power grid and will transmit renewable energy generated offshore and onshore to consumers, which is crucially important for the entire Belgian energy network,” said Ilse Tant, chief community relations officer, Elia.
Ventilus will be a 380-kV high-voltage line with a capacity of 6 GW. The project consists of several parts. For example, a new overhead line is planned between the existing Stevin line and the high-voltage substation in Avelgem. The exact route has not yet been determined.
To determine the route, the Flemish government and Elia have resolutely opted for a participatory approach, which will provide a chance to residents of the 25 municipalities affected to voice their opinion at the information sessions that will be held in 10 locations across West Flanders in May and June.
“With Ventilus, West Flanders will become a vital hub in the crucial transition to sustainable energy. This means that new infrastructure needs to be built, but it is essential that a participatory process take place so that all residents of West Flanders can add their input before final decisions are made,” said Carl Decaluwé, Governor of West Flanders.
Based on the subsequent Environmental Impact Study (EIS), the Flemish government will determine the final route in 2021 and apply for an environmental permit. The work is expected to begin no earlier than late 2022.