Super Grid: the answer to Europe's energy needs?
Mar 5, 2009 - Thijs Westerbeek - Radio Netherlands Worldwide
The European Commission wants to build powerful electricity transmission networks connecting the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Baltic region. This would help bring more wind and water energy onto the market.
The biggest problem with wind power is its unpredictability. When the wind does not blow there is no electricity and when it blows too hard you cannot use all of it. A new European network of underground and undersea high-voltage direct current cables (HVDC), which would be longer and more powerful than the current overhead lines, could offer a solution. The problem caused by fluctuations in the supply of wind-generated energy will only increase in the coming years.
Economic crisis aside, the supply of oil is not infinite; sooner or later, we're going to run out of oil and wind energy - particularly wind parks at sea - will inevitably play a greater role. The European high-voltage transmission grid could transport electricity to wherever it is needed: electricity generated by strong winds blowing in Spain's Bay of Biscay could be transported to Italy or Austria.
Energy experts at Germany's University of Kassel really understand the 'big idea'. Energy systems modelling expert Professor Gregor Czisch and his colleagues say Europe could satisfy all of its energy needs by transforming its existing electricity grinds into one clean Super Grid that uses only renewable sources. Seventy percent of electricity needs would come from wind energy, with hydroelectric power stations in Scandinavia supplying the necessary back-up capacity.
And that is certainly true when one considers that the Norned line cost just 400 million euros.
European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs has already taken the first steps towards realising the Super Grid. He is due to hold talks with Germany, Sweden and Denmark about coupling the fluctuating supply of German and Danish wind-generated energy with Swedish hydroelectric power plants.
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