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European super grid

Nov 10, 2008 - RenewableEnergyFocus.com

International energy expert Dr Czisch has outlined a strategy for a European-wide super grid that would supply all of Europe with renewable electricity.

Speaking at the fourth Claverton Energy conference, hosted by Wessex Water, Bath, Dr Czisch of Kassel University, Germany, also said the move to a renewable electricity system could cost the UK consumer the same as what is currently being paid, and, if there is the political will, he added that it could in theory be achieved within decades.

Dr Czisch, who has conducted research of world weather patterns and European electricity consumption on an hour by hour basis, says Europe could ensure its energy security, slash its CO2 emissions and have a sustainable, renewable electricity supply by employing a network of wind turbines that stretch across the continent from Siberia to North Africa, where the wind is most constant.

This would be supported by biomass, coupled with an extended transmission system and existing hydropower plants providing storage capacity. In Dr Czich’s system wind would account for 70% of the electricity mix. Biomass and hydro would provide storage and back up and the biggest part of the remaining electricity production. Dr Czisch states that biomass production in his system would not have to impinge on agriculture.

Some of the electricity in Dr Czisch’s system created by wind farms in North African countries would be used domestically, but the major part of the total electricity created by these wind farms would be fed into the European super grid. Dr Czisch says this would create economic development in each of these countries, as well as a reliable renewable energy infrastructure.

According to Dr Czisch if the power stations and transmission system are installed gradually - e.g. replacing existing plants as they become obsolete - the annual investment costs for the new installations in the whole scenario territory - according to the base case scenario - would account for €52.1 billion for the wind power plants, €16.2bn for biomass power plants, €6.4bn for the HVDC transmission system and €2.7bn for solar thermal power plants, totalling €77.5bn. This is 0.6% of the EU’s 2002 GDP.

Commenting about Dr Czisch’s report, former head of Shell, Lord Oxburgh, says: "Dr Czisch has proposed an ambitious scheme that would allow wind power to play a major role in European energy supply; he is right to emphasise that this could only happen through the construction of a regional pattern of interconnectors to form a 'Super Grid'. Real time balancing of current flows in super grids is a massive unsolved technical challenge, but it is one that we have to face".

Leading UK and international energy experts agree that technology already exists for a European super grid. Godfrey Boyle and Prof Dave Elliott of the Open University, Dr Mark Barrett of UCL, ex-chief scientist and co-founder of Airtricity, Brian Hurley, who have all carried out their own studies into the practicalities and use of wind power and other renewables, as well as Chris Hodrien of Expansion Energy Ltd and Oxford University, and Oliver Tickell environmental campaigner and author of Kyoto2, have welcomed Dr Czisch’s idea for a European super grid.

Dr Czisch's report can be found here.