The continent’s first electricity grid for renewable power has become a political reality, as nine countries formally link clean energy in a deal worth €30bn. For the wind industry, in particular, it will mark perhaps the final step towards mainstream acceptance.
The North Sea Grid is the big idea as far as renewable energy generation across Europe is concerned. Several years in the planning, and now ratified by an agreement between nine European countries, this is the first stage in a so-called ‘supergrid’ is aimed squarely at the development of a single European market for renewable energy.
The “supergrid” is expected to decentralise energy provision, connect sources of renewable energy and drive down bills from energy suppliers. Naturally, wind power features extensively in the development of the supergrid, with expectations for the plans to increase the potential of offshore wind farms and hydropower to supply electricity to consumers across the continent.
Paolo Berrino, of the European Wind Energy Association, said: “The North Sea grid will connect offshore wind to our electricity supply, enabling Europe to exploit its largest untapped energy source. It will allow trade in electricity between countries, thereby bringing more competition into the market and reducing electricity prices.”
The network, made up of thousands of kilometres of highly efficient undersea cables, would solve one of the biggest criticisms faced by renewable power – that unpredictable weather means it is unreliable. With a renewables supergrid, electricity can be supplied across the continent from wherever the wind is blowing, the sun is shining or the waves are crashing.
Connected to Norway’s many hydro-electric power stations, it could act as a giant 30GW battery for Europe’s clean energy, storing electricity when demand is low and be a major step towards a continent-wide supergrid that could link into the vast potential of solar power farms in North Africa.