The holy grail of load management would be to bring an entire region into a grid, so that alternative energy sources from the entire area could be directed as needed. Such a plan exists: A high voltage electricity grid connecting countries from the North Sea to the Bay of Biscay could provide almost a third of Europe’s power by 2030, according to the company behind the idea. The system would improve energy security, cut emissions, and even reduce the price of power at times of peak demand.
The supergrid is the brainchild of Irish wind generator Airtricity – recently acquired by Scottish and Southern Energy for €1.1 billion – and would connect countries as far apart as Norway and Spain to each other’s offshore wind farms. When the wind blows in one country but not in others, power would be directed through the high voltage direct current (HVDC) network to wherever it is needed most.
According to Mark Ennis, Airtricity’s Executive Director for Strategy and Public Policy, the system will solve the Achilles heel of wind generation. In an interview with lastoilshock.comand Global Public Media, Ennis said “By having a very large grid over several thousand kilometers you take the variability out, you almost come out with base load energy”
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi last week, Ennis went on to say that the HVDC technology is proven, that existing financial incentives are already sufficient to make the idea viable, and that a regulatory agreement between countries is close: “I think we are nearly there”. If work starts soon, Ennis claimed, the supergrid could supply 30% of Europe’s power by 2030….
Image by Duesentrieb, Wikimedia Commons.