On May 16, Belgian Federal Minister Philippe De Backer and Minister Marie Christine Marghem visited the Modular Offshore Grid (MOG), the switchyard platform in the North Sea that will soon bundle together cables from offshore wind farms and connect them to the mainland.

Bart Tommelein and Dirk De Fauw, Mayors of Ostend and Bruges respectively, were also present. In April, the platform's topside was successfully fitted onto the jacket in the North Sea. Moreover, the first of two cables was connected to the mainland at Zeebrugge, meaning that the MOG is nearly ready to fulfil its key role in further developing offshore renewable energy from September onwards.

MOG2

The Modular Offshore Grid in the North Sea is taking shape. In April, the topside was successfully fitted onto the jacket. The plug will bundle the electricity generated by four wind farms (Rentel, Seastar, Mermaid and Northwester 2) and transmit it to the mainland via joint subsea cables.

The plug is located 40 km off the Belgian coast and will enable wind farms to transmit as much as possible of the electricity generated to the mainland. In total, this will involve 130 km of 220-kV cables, which will be laid under the sea, leading from the offshore platform to Zeebrugge beach.

MOG 3

In early May, the first of two cables was successfully connected to the mainland, where it was then connected to the existing onshore underground cables leading to the Stevin high-voltage substation in Zeebrugge. The second cable is expected to reach the shore later this month. Work is also under way offshore to connect the cables to the platform, which is a major technical feat.

The MOG is needed to transmit the renewable energy generated by wind farms safely and efficiently to the mainland. The project enables 40 km of cable to be saved and will also provide greater security of supply: if one of the offshore cables fails or is faulty, the wind farms will still be able to inject their energy into Belgium's grid.

Chris Peeters, Chief Executive Officer Elia, said, “The MOG plays an essential role in the transition towards more renewable energy. We are especially proud that Elia can act as a pioneer in this regard. The project has been completed in record time: the first agreements were made with the authorities in March 2016, and the MOG will be operational this September. That is unheard of.”

During the visit, Elia and the political stakeholders also looked ahead to the future. In late April, the federal government approved Elia's 2020-2030 Federal Development Plan, in which Elia outlines its investment plans for the next ten years. Improved integration of offshore energy plays a central role in these plans.

Specifically, Elia plans to expand the offshore network by building MOG II. In future, therefore, Elia will build more platforms in the North Sea to also connect the additional wind farms provided for in the offshore law efficiently to Belgium's high-voltage grid. To make this possible, major onshore projects will also be carried out over the coming years, such as the crucial Ventilus and Boucle du Hainaut projects.

Details of MOG:

  • The MOG platform is located 40 km off the coast of Zeebrugge.
  • The platform is unmanned and can be fully monitored and controlled remotely.
  • The topside rises 41 m above the surface of the water and weighs 2000 tonnes.
  • It is anchored to the seabed with four posts at a depth of 60 meters.
  • A team of 185 people was on board the installation vessel for the installation of both the jacket in early
  • November 2018 and the topside in April 2019.
  • 220-kV subsea cables will connect the platform with the Stevin high-voltage substation in Zeebrugge.
  • With a diameter of 28 cm, the cables connecting the platform to the Elia grid on the mainland are the thickest cables ever installed in the North Sea.
  • To protect subsea cables from anchors and trawls from fishing boats, they are always buried, at a depth of 1 to 3 meters.
  • Elia's total investment is estimated at €400 million.