UCD study says integrated pan-EU energy grid could reduce costs by 32pc

10 Feb 2022

Concept of the pan-EU integrated energy grid. Image: ConsultUCD

The UCD study said Europe will face challenges without ‘a more advanced approach to transmission’.

Researchers at University College Dublin (UCD) claim that a fully connected pan-EU energy transmission system can reduce energy costs by 32pc compared to the current ‘business as usual’ approach.

A team from UCD’s Energy Institute said derestricting European power flows will allow the location of renewable energy generation to be optimised.

Future Human

While this scenario proposes an increase in transmission capacity, the study claimed that the costs are “insignificant” when compared to the cost savings in generation investment.

The study was commissioned by technology company SuperNode, which is headquartered at NovaUCD and designs superconducting systems to connect renewable energy generation and boost grid interconnection. The research team evaluated Europe’s transmission system capabilities based on the SuperNode 2050 energy scenario for Europe.

“The existing transmission system is not fit for purpose for Europe’s energy future,” study lead Prof Andrew Keane said.

“The shortcomings of the current transmission system have been known for years but were tolerated. The imperative to keep the lights on and the requirements of the energy transition make it clear that a more advanced approach to transmission is required.”

The study also looked at an “unconstrained scenario”, which is an interconnected European grid with less constraints than the pan-EU model. The study claimed the unconstrained model could reduce costs by 48pc compared to the current model.

The study said Europe, without an accelerated investment in infrastructure, will face challenges with load shedding (temporary interruptions to electricity delivery), generation curtailment and excessively high emissions

“Large-scale transmission projects are known to take over 10 years to complete,” the team said in the study. “Planning for future interconnection to facilitate larger power flows needs to begin as soon as possible to coincide with the increasing levels of renewables in the system.”

SuperNode market and policy analyst Marcos Byrne said Ireland and Europe’s grid challenges will “only worsen” as more renewables are added unless a new mindset in grid development is taken.

“This reinforces SuperNode’s belief in the need for new transmission technologies to reduce energy costs and we are confident that the superconductive transmission systems SuperNode is developing will be a key enabler of Europe’s energy transition,” Byrne added.

Research by other groups has also looked at how the EU could integrate different renewable energy systems into one pan-European super grid.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic