Belgium is planning to construct an island in the North Sea to store wind energy, as it looks for ways to lessen its reliance on nuclear power.
One of the biggest problems with electricity is that it is difficult to store and the issue is exaggerated in the case of renewable energy from wind or sun because it is intermittent depending on the weather.
“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 Belgium’s North Sea minister Johan Vande Lanotte. “This is a great solution,” she said, adding she thought it could be the first of its kind.
Excess wind power 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.
Belgium hopes eventually to generate 2,300 MW from its network of North Sea wind farms, which could replace a significant part of either of its two nuclear sites, Doel and Tihange, which each generate about 3,000 MW.
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.