European Super Grid – Moving Transmission Systems Towards A Decarbonized And Integrated Europe

European Union Heading Towards Building Super Grid

The electricity generated at power plants needs to be supplied to the distribution utilities for which a robust transmission network is very essential. The transmission network in Europe works as a single grid with all major countries connected to each other delivering electric power at high voltages ranging from 220 kV to 1,000 kV. A well connected and upgraded transmission network is very essential as some countries in Europe are trying to phase out thermal & nuclear plants and completely adopt renewable energy for electricity generation. Germany’s energy regulator has given a nod to one such project in which high voltage lines will send wind power from the North Sea to southwest consumers in Germany which will help phase out nuclear plants till 2022 and good connectivity will help supplying clean electricity to consumers.

COVID-19 to have an impact on fresh investments in power transmission in Europe, commissioning of new power transmission lines likely to be affected

For better connectivity, new inter and intra country transmission networks are being proposed, such initiatives bring business opportunities for many value chain players in the transmission sector. Over USD 15 billion is estimated to be invested in the coming decade for the national electricity grid in Italy. United Kingdom to see the largest fresh investments in power transmission segment as record-breaking 5.4 GW wind capacity successfully awarded in 2019. In countries like Estonia, Latvia & Belarus opportunity scale for transmission projects is USD 365.48 Million, the Grid up-gradation project in Slovakia & Czech Republic brings the opportunity of USD 103 Million which are some eye-catching projects in Europe. There are few other transmission projects like in Slovenia having an opportunity size of USD 54.60 Million and in Bulgaria & Greece catering to an opportunity worth USD 32.43 Million.

European Smart Grid - Moving Transmission Systems Towards a Decarbonized And Integrated Europe

European Grid, is a possible future super grid that would ultimately interconnect the various European countries and the regions around Europe’s borders at high voltage HVDC network lines – including Kazakhstan, Morocco, Mauritania, Egypt, Scandinavia and Iceland with the specific purpose of enabling renewable energy to reliably delivered from these areas and to utilize only existing hydro power as balancing.

Benefits of Super Grid -

  • A cross-border energy network would have a number of benefits, including improved energy security, grid decentralization, and the improved uptake of renewable energy technologies;
  • The most significant benefit would be the pooling of the entire renewable energy resource of the European continent. This would reduce intermittency by smoothing supply and demand issues, while also providing a huge amount of reserve;
  • Lower the cost of power in all participating countries by allowing the entire region to share the most efficient power plants;
  • Pool load variability and power station unreliability, reducing the margin of inefficient spinning reserve and standby that have to be supplied
  • Allow for wider use of renewable energy particularly wind energy;
  • Allow wide sharing of total European hydropower resource which is about 6 weeks of full load European output;
  • Decrease Europe’s dependence on imported fuels;

Roadmap of the European Industrial Initiative

perspective-pt-in-europe.jpgSource: European Commission, eninrac research

Investment Plans For Power Transmission Asset Development

As per 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, the total investment needs (including investments in end-use sectors, generation, and grids) in the reference scenario amount to USD 913.9 billion (annual average till 2030) and the decarbonization scenarios require additional investments ranging from 4.7 % (for a 40 % GHG reduction target and 26.5 % RES) to 7.71 % (for a 40 % GHG reduction target and 30 % RES) compared to the reference. The incremental investment needs to reach the 2030 targets are hence relatively low; the average electricity cost in 2030 would be basically identical in the considered scenarios, i.e. 197.1 USD/MWh in the reference scenario and 200.4 USD/MWh and 199.3 USD/MWh respectively in the two other scenarios versus 146.7 USD/MWh in 2010. The investment needs for grids and generation & boilers only represent between 9 and 12 % of the total investments, while transport is responsible for the major share (about 80 %).

Investment needs according to the 2030 Framework Impact Assessment

europe-perspective.pngSource: Executive summary of the impact assessment for the policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030, eninrac research

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Investment needs according to the 2050 Framework Impact Assessment

europe-perspective-2.pngSource: Executive summary of the impact assessment for the policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2050, eninrac research

National & PAN-European Grid Development Plans

I. For North-South Europe Interconnections - Key Developments Planned vis-a-vis transmission connections

Key Projects Planned Under the North-South Europe Grid Interconnections

europe-perspective-3.pngSource: ENTSO, eninrac research

II. For Northern Seas Offshore Grid (NSOG) Interconnections – Key Developments Planned vis-à-vis transmission connections

Key Projects Planned Under the Northern Seas Offshore Grid Interconnections

europe-perspective-4.pngSource: ENTSO, eninrac research

Modernization of the power transmission lines is the key to create a pathway for the effective integration of the renewable capacity - With European market is looking for expanding the renewable capacity into the power generation mix with the majority of countries targeting more than 50% of the power generation through renewable resource by 2030, the transmission operators are going for modernization of power grid for effective integration of the renewable capacity.


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