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Belgium Plans to Build Artificial Island to Store Wind Energy

Jan 21, 2013 07:32 AM EST
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(Photo : Reuters)

In a bid to store wind energy, Belgium is planning to build an artificial island in the North Sea.

The doughnut-shaped island will be built out of sand in a span of five years once it gets the go-ahead. Officials believe this will largely help in reducing dependence on nuclear power to generate electricity.

In the wake of potential risks from nuclear reactors, the country is planning an exit from nuclear power once it finds alternate sources to generate electricity, reports Reuters. The report states that around 57 percent of Belgium's energy came from nuclear power in 2011.

The idea to build an artificial island is a significant step toward lessening their reliance on nuclear power. Belgian officials hope about 2,300 MW of electricity could be generated from its network of North Sea wind farms, once the island is constructed. This could replace a significant part of electricity generated from two of country's nuclear sites - Doel and Tihange.

The country has more energy from wind mills, but the energy gets lost when there is less demand. It has been difficult to store wind energy, which has prompted the Belgian officials to resort to building an artificial island. "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," a spokeswoman for Belgium's North Sea minister Johan Vande Lanotte told Reuters. "This is a great solution," she said.

The island will have a reservoir in the middle, wherein excess electricity will be used to pump out the water when energy supply exceeds demand. When there is more energy demand than supply, the water would be let back into the reservoir through turbines to generate electricity, a report in phys.org said.

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