By Zak Stone
The term "artificial islands" invokes a sense of lavishness and environmental hubris: perhaps that's because they often make headlines in the context of Dubai's ambitions to create an archipelago of fake, vacation-home-filled islands in the shape of the world.
But in Belgium, planners are working on creating a sustainably oriented, donut-shaped island in the North Sea to serve as a storage point for wind energy, which otherwise can get wasted when demand for power flags, according to Reuters. Energywise explains the mechanics behind the project:
The principle here is pumped water storage. When wind farms generate more power than can be used, it would be sent to Crazy Belgian Donut Island (that's my proposed name) and used to pump water out of the donut's central reservoir. When demand is higher or the wind is lower, the water would be allowed to flow back into the reservoir, spinning turbines and regenerating the electricity to be sent back to the mainland. The planned site for the island is about 3 km off the Belgian coast.
It's all part of Belgium's long-term plan to eventually move completely away from nuclear energy, by ramping up wind farms. Right now, two nuclear plants in Belgium produce 3,000 megawatts of energy each. Wind farms in the North Sea could eventually replace up to 2,300 megawatts of that power.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.