This webinar was the first one of a series that OCEaN and RGI will organise on Nature Inclusive Design (NID) solutions applied in Offshore Wind Energy (OWE) and related grids for nature-positive outcomes. We kicked off the webinar series by looking at NID solutions that the Belgium transmission system operator (TSO), Elia, could apply in its offshore grid infrastructure (Energy Island) in the North Sea.
Properly planned roll-out of OWE and supporting grid infrastructure can provide opportunities to sustain the protection and restoration of European seas. One way to achieve this is the integration of innovative solutions such as Nature Inclusive Design (NID) alongside infrastructure. NID are measures integrated into the design of infrastructure which attempt to minimise risks and increase ecological opportunities by providing direct and indirect positive effects on biodiversity.
Elia will apply NID solutions in its offshore artificial Energy Island (electricity hub), in the North Sea, with construction starting in 2024. This novel project hosts an offshore substation connecting power cables from new offshore wind farms, in the Princess Elisabeth Zone, and future offshore interconnectors with other countries and transport electricity to the mainland high voltage grid.
Since the planning phase, Elia has worked with relevant stakeholders to find fit-for-purpose NID solutions. This co-creation and collaborative process ended in October this year. In this webinar, Nicolas Beck (Head of Community Relations) and Riet Durinck (Offshore Community Relations Officer) from Elia outlined their engagement strategy with academia, scientists, NGOs and public authority experts. They presented the outcomes of this exchange, the challenges encountered, and the context of offshore grid developments in Belgium. You can find the recording of the webinar below.
Stay tuned for the next webinar in this series, where we will look at lessons learned in the Netherlands' marine space. There, offshore electricity infrastructure players and NGOs have built experience in implementing NID solutions jointly for years.