The Port of Ostend is situated in Europe’s busiest maritime area. If Belgium plays a leading role in the field of renewable energy at sea today, it is partially thanks to all the efforts made by Ostend. The city plays a pioneering role in the blue economy, especially in the domain of offshore wind energy. Ostend functions as a logistic offshore wind hub for the southern part of the North Sea. International top companies active in construction, maintenance and operation of this energy production operate from Ostend. At the same time, Ostend is a breeding ground for knowledge and innovation. The maritime test platform Blue accelerator focuses on research and testing of new technologies such as drones, floating solar panels, aquaculture, ... With the local presence of numerous research institutions, the Belgian North Sea is perhaps one of the most studied sea areas in the world.
Ostend has more or less 72.000 inhabitants of 130 nationalities and a surface of 37,7km². It is the main city at the Belgian coastline and its population keeps growing. Tourism is one of the economical strengths of the city. Except the sea as one of its major attractors, Ostend has lots of other highlights in art (painters Ensor and Spilliaert), culture, leisure, sports, and nature.
Fort Napoleon, completed in 1813, has seen hundreds of years of history and is one of the best preserved forts built during the French annexation of the Netherlands. During the Napoleonic era, the coastal area between Den Helder (NL) and Boulogne-sur-Mer (FR) forms a single region that is an extension of the French coastline. For the construction of forts, the Imperial Corps of Engineers experiments with completely new concepts, based on polygonal systems of fortification. Today, Fort Napoleon is the only remnant of the ring of forts that the French intended to build around the city of Ostend.
Fort Napoleon has a turbulent history, marked by a gradual decrease in military importance, leading to a long period in which the abandoned fort was allowed to deteriorate.
During the last 20 years however, Fort Napoleon has seen a return to its former glory. Today it is a place where hundreds of years of history come to life in a story trail. It is a place where visitors can gather and enjoy a widely varying range of experiences, expositions and events, with respect for the Fort’s monumental character and its surroundings.
The Princess Elisabeth Island will be located almost 45 km off the Belgian coast and will serve as the link between the offshore wind farms in the second offshore wind zone (which will have a maximum capacity of 3.5 GW) and its onshore high-voltage grid. The energy island will also be the first building block of a European offshore electricity grid that will serve as a central hub for new interconnectors with the UK and Denmark.
The island is a feat of innovation and a world first that once again puts Belgium on the map as a pioneer in offshore energy. The construction of the island is due to start in 2024 and the island should be completed in mid-2026. From then on, the construction of the electrical infrastructure on the energy island will start. Elia, the Belgian system operator for Electricity, aims to achieve full connection capacity by 2030.
The Princess Elisabeth island is an important step in the extension of the European electricity grid at sea. It will directly participate in the realization Europe's climate ambitions, which will be at least 300 GW of offshore wind power by 2050.
Elia Group is a key player in electricity transmission. The company supply 30 million end users with electricity and manage 19,192 km of high-voltage links via its subsidiaries in Belgium (Elia) and northern and eastern Germany (50Hertz), making Elia Group one of the 5 largest grid operators in Europe.