Belgium reveals artificial island plan for wind energy

Jan 20, 2013 by Nancy Owano weblog

(Phys.org)—Belgium is to build an artificial island made of sand three km off the Belgian coast. This will be a doughnut-shaped structure designed to store wind energy once the plan gets a final go-ahead. This North Sea island would work as an offshore substation; it would take five years or more to build. The plan was announced earlier this week in a presentation at the port of Zeebrugge by Johan Vande Lanotte, Belgium's North Sea minister.

The initiative is best understood in the light of Belgium's experience with and energy needs.

In 2011, around 57 percent of Belgium's energy came from nuclear power but, as with other countries with a heightened awareness of risks post-, envisions an exit from nuclear power as soon as enough energy from alternative sources becomes available, according to Reuters.

Also, Belgium's nuclear power operator shut down reactors last year in order to investigate cracks found. The potential cracks were found in inspections last year at the base of the at Doel 3, near Antwerp, and at Tihange 2, near Liege. Earlier this month, there were reports of a restart of the two Belgian nuclear power plants , but the nuclear regulator this month said that it wanted more information before it could make a final decision on whether to restart the two reactors,

Meanwhile, a study, commissioned by the Green Party group in the said that: "A possible failure of the reactor due to sudden crack growth in case of local thermal stresses cannot be excluded and would have catastrophic consequences." The study said that restarting the two shut since the discovery of micro-cracks in their reactor vessels could be a hazardous move.

If the artificial island goes to plan, Belgium could generate 2,300 MW from its network of North Sea , replacing a significant part of either of its two nuclear sites, Doel and Tihange.

Belgium has lots of energy from the wind mills, said a government spokesperson, but it can get lost during periods of low demand; insufficient ways to store the wind power have been a problem, and wind power in turn has been an inferior alternative to nuclear and fossil fuel. A donut-shaped artificial island could efficiently store energy when demand would exceed supply. The water would be let back into the reservoir through turbines, regenerating the electricity to be sent back to the mainland.

Belgium only produces about four percent of its energy from wind power, but the European Association predicted that Belgium could expand capacity to over 4,000 megawatts by 2020.

Explore further: Ambitious EU targets for renewable energies make economic sense

More information: www.reuters.com/article/2013/0… dUSL6N0AM7GU20130117
phys.org/news/2013-01-experts-… belgian-nuclear.html

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User comments : 24

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ShotmanMaslo
2 / 5 (8) Jan 20, 2013
What is the capacity of this island battery? How long would the reservoir last at 2300 MW?
jonnyboy
2 / 5 (21) Jan 20, 2013
massive wind farm replaces 36% of shut down reactors......Belgium civilization goes dark
obama_socks
1.8 / 5 (15) Jan 20, 2013
massive wind farm replaces 36% of shut down reactors......Belgium civilization goes dark
-jonnyboy

Depends largely on the power storage capacity of the batteries after the wind dies down...and some other factors. I say more power to them. On this, I favor the Green Party group's advisory.
:))
RitchieGay01
Jan 20, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antialias_physorg
3.8 / 5 (5) Jan 20, 2013
What is the capacity of this island battery?

According to wikipedia it will be 300MW for three hours per day.
CapitalismPrevails
2.8 / 5 (14) Jan 20, 2013
Is the coastal water around Belgium shallow? How deep is? Where are they going to build it? How much sand will they need? How much would moving that much matter around cost for producing "300MW for three hours per day"?
NotParker
1.9 / 5 (14) Jan 20, 2013
Is Belgium worried about getting hit by a massive tidal wave? Wouldn't a tsunami pulverize the island "battery"?
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 20, 2013
Is Belgium worried about getting hit by a massive tidal wave?

No. Look at a map.

Tsunamis just don't happen willy nilly. They happen when there is underwater seaquakes. There's no major tectonically active regions around Belgium.

Is the coastal water around Belgium shallow? How deep is? Where are they going to build it? How much sand will they need?

They're going to be building 3km off the coast (a balance between distance to the grid, depth and building costs).

Building such storage makes good economic sense as some wind farms have had the problem that they can't get rid of their power when there's an overabundance of wind - and in the off hours power can be sold at a higher price.
So this island will probably first 'fill up' the storage (by emptying the island) before selling to the grid - and then sell the stored energy when demand is high and availability is low.

The Netherlands and Denmark (and I believe the UK) have already drawn up similar schemes.
ekim
5 / 5 (2) Jan 20, 2013
Such an island battery could also be charged using wave powered pumps.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.1 / 5 (17) Jan 20, 2013
Tsunamis just don't happen willy nilly. They happen when there is underwater seaquakes. There's no major tectonically active regions around Belgium.
Not so fast AA. Megatsunamis caused by volcanic activity or landslides such as at la Palma and elsewhere could be a problem.
http://www.citize...ng-soon/
antialias_physorg
2.8 / 5 (9) Jan 21, 2013
Not so fast AA. Megatsunamis caused by volcanic activity or landslides such as at la Palma and elsewhere could be a problem.


For the love of god: Look at a map before posting such idiocy.

(Yes, we could have a kilometer wide asteroid come down anywhere on Earth. And unicorns could start to fart stong winds. At the price this island has it's a throw-away article that you can build a dozen times over befor it ould be non-competitive to nuclear)
perrycomo
1.7 / 5 (11) Jan 21, 2013
Of course the question remains . How many megawatts can you store if the reservoir is filled . Someone can answer based on wiki sources , but an answers like 300 mw for three hours a day says again completely nothing . How many days ? They all so don't talk about the costs of this ridiculous project . Windmills harvests megawatts , when there is too much of it , they use the electricity to start the pumps . When there is no wind they start the turbines . But when it is wind still for a couple of days nothing comes out of it . It is better to use all this capital for solar cells on roofs . That would be interesting for my country too , because we can cheaply buy the solar energy from the germans which is all so subsidized by the german government . lol .
antialias_physorg
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 21, 2013
Since they plan to empty it every night with the nightly generated power from their off shore windfarms the total capacity is 900MWh. With a max of 300MW output.

As for cost: There's no definite price tag on this, since it's just a project in planning.
They say it'll cost "about the same as a windfarm" (so it's probably in the 200-300 million dollar range)

It is better to use all this capital for solar cells

Not for Belgium. They have rather a lot of wind, but not so much sunshine (especially during the heating-intensive periods: Fall till spring and at night)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (21) Jan 21, 2013
For the love of god: Look at a map before posting such idiocy.
Youre getting kind of pompous in your old age I think AA. You don't think that a 6 meter wave reaching the south shore of Britain wouldn't have some effect on the euro shoreline? These waves go around objects, like sound waves. Undersea landslides happen about as frequently as mag 9 earthquakes.

Your lack of regard for facts and your reluctance to educate yourself is -annoying-
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (19) Jan 21, 2013
AA forgets that a typical result if these encounters is you acknowledging (at least to yourself) that otto knows something you don't...

Other sources for these events in the area include Norway and Iceland
http://es.ucsc.ed...ngle.pdf
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (21) Jan 21, 2013
Here is a discussion of more traditional sources:

"A tsunami in Belgium?

Tsunami was a word rarely heard before the powerful seaquake off southeastern Asia and the tsunami in Sumatra. But the question 'Can this also happen in the North Sea?' is on many lips since.
History has proven that this is possible indeed. The North Sea and the English Channel are not as quiet as one might think, even if their seismic activities are not so intense or frequent as in the classic risk areas, such as Japan, Chile or California."
http://www.natura.../tsunami

-And it's got s map...
-Like I say a little research can save you a lot of embarrassment.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (20) Jan 21, 2013
"The southern North Sea and the English Channel do not have a continental slope, but earthquakes do occur. On 21 May 1392 an earthquake hit mainly Kent and Flanders; its epicentre was in the southern North Sea. There was no mention of a tsunami. More recently, and thus better documented, was the earthquake of 6 April 1580. It measured between 5.3 and 5.9 on the Richter scale and had its epicentre 30 to 25 km deep in the English Channel. A tsunami inundated Calais and caused floods as far as Boulogne. The next day, a second tsunami struck Dover and seemed to have reached the Mont Saint Michel. A sudden sea swell arose in the Channel, sinking 20 to 30 vessels. A survivor reported that the waves rose more than 15 m high. The 1931 Dogger Bank earthquake, in the southern North Sea, had a magnitude of 6.1 and caused a tsunami that especially hit Britain."

-etc. Fifteen meters. That's like 45 ft or so isn't it? AA?
antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 21, 2013
Youre getting kind of pompous in your old age I think AA.

Nope. I just don't suffer fools gladly.

Some very basic geography:
Portugal and Spain is in the way

You're saying this thing will go AROUND the iberian peninsula, Bounce off the inglish isles, go AROUND France to hit Belgium from behind? What are you? Nuts?

Some very basic physics: Energy of a tsunami per km of beach it hits goes inversely proportional to the distance ithas travelled (more than that because waves do not travel lossless over the oceans)

And how often is that megatsunami supposed to happen...Let's see how often it has happened in the past in Europe...Oh, that's right: Never.

And based on this people shouldn't build anything near a coastline, anywhere in your opinion, right? You're really stone crazy, you know that?

Do a reality check once in a while before you post. Please.

Apart fom that: It's a friggin sand hole. The worst that could happen is: It fills up. Boo. Hoo.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (18) Jan 21, 2013
Some very basic physics: Energy of a tsunami per km of beach it hits goes inversely proportional to the distance ithas travelled (more than that because waves do not travel lossless over the oceans)
Evidence says you dont know the physics of waves. And, instead of looking things up, youre making things up again. Sad. Pussytard does this very same thing.

Note how waves surround new zealand
http://www.youtub...00d-0MGQ

-And HERE you can see how the la palma megatsunami inundates the belgian coast to 10 meters.
http://es.ucsc.ed...unup.mov

Note how GBR is surrounded by waves. Slides in norway or iceland would have more direct effects.
And how often is that megatsunami supposed to happen...Let's see how often it has happened in the past in Europe...Oh, that's right: Never.
3.2 Modern 3.2.1 1792: Mount Unzen, Japan
3.2.2 1958: Lituya Bay, Alaska, USA
3.2.3 1963: Vajont Dam, Italy
3.2.4 1980: Spirit Lake, Washington, USA

La Palms, hawaii - imminent.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (19) Jan 21, 2013
Nope. I just don't suffer fools gladly.

Tsunami events which have affected Britain:
1 Scotland tsunami, 6100 BC
2 England and Wales, AD 1014
3 Dover Straits earthquake, 1580
4 Bristol Channel, 1607
5 Lisbon earthquake, 1755
6 North Sea tsunami, 1858
7 Meteotsunami, 1929
8 South coast tsunami, 2011

"Another tsunami that geologists believe will hit Britain would be caused by a huge earthquake on a fault off the coast of Portugal; the same fault that caused the massive 1755 Lisbon earthquake (see above). Strain has been accumulating on that fault, which will eventually result in the fault breaking again, creating another megathrust earthquake, which could be as big as the 1755 earthquake (which was an estimated magnitude 9."

-And as most people (besides you and pussytard apparently) realize, this would affect the coast of belgium as well. Considerably.

Anything else you want me to look up for you?
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (8) Jan 21, 2013

Note how waves surround new zealand

Duh. But waves lose a LOT of energy that way. So what?
Please. Look at the map where La Palma is and where Belgium is.

Also, please look up about tsunamis. Tsunamis are only high VERY close to the shore (due to shoaling). Out at sea they're only a few centimeters to a meter high (unlike other waves they have a very long wavelength).

And again: this contraption is OUT AT SEA.

Yes, a megatsunami wouldn't be nice for a lot pof coastal infrastructure (no one is saying otherwise). So what? People have been building with that in mind forever. Occasionally a force of nature will sweep stuff away (hurricanes in the US, cyclones, tsunamis in the pacific, tropical storms). Then you just build it again. if the MTBF is worth it you do it.
It's cheap and it's not even an ecological desaster if it gets destroyed (unlike all conventional types of powerplants)
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 21, 2013
Anything else you want me to look up for you?

Yep. How about anything relevant to the topic at hand?

Actually the one thing I would like you to do is not look stuff up but simply LOOK UP and READ the article before posting irrelevant stuff.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (21) Jan 21, 2013
This is too easy
Some very basic physics: Energy of a tsunami per km of beach it hits goes inversely proportional to the distance ithas travelled
"The rate of energy loss is typically proportional to the inverse of the wavelength. Thus tsunamis dissipate very little energy. In the absence of bottom friction, like in deep water, the wave maintains its large amount of energy. As the tsunami approaches the coast it will begin to slow and experience a run-up creating large surges."
http://www.physic...t=284401

-This is possible in part because water is incompressible. Did you know that AA? Guess not.
Yep. How about anything relevant to the topic at hand?
Sorry YOU brought it up. YOU were pontificating. I saw a nice target of opportunity. You persisted. You fell.
And again: this contraption is OUT AT SEA.
And still you persist. This would be built off the sea bottom, an island like GBR or NZ, allowing a tsunami wave to MOUNT and BUILD.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 21, 2013
This is possible in part because water is incompressible. Did you know that AA?

Waves have a water air interface (and air is compresssible) Did you know that? I guess not.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (19) Jan 21, 2013
Duh. But waves lose a LOT of energy that way. So what? Please. Look at the map where La Palma is and where Belgium is.
-And this indicates you didnt even look at the simulation by UCSC (University of California, Santa Cruz) which shows you how this would create a 10 meter wave on belgian beaches. Im crying AA. Ignorance makes me cry.
http://www.youtub...7TMi0l68