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An integrated European power market through interconnection

Integrated European power market

An integrated European power market through interconnection

Integration of renewable energy, reliability and cost considerations are vital drivers for the European Interconnector Market.


The EU aims to be carbon-free by 2050 by phasing out fossil fuels. However, yields from renewable sources are often extremely variable: wind turbines won’t work when there’s no wind and solar panels don’t produce power at night, for example. An interconnected European power market allows states to buy other countries excess energy capacity when needed and sell their own surpluses.

A recent Stanford University study modelled grids fully powered by wind, water and sunlight across Western Europe. The costs of ‘fully interconnected’ versus ‘completely isolated’ grids, were compared for interconnection scenarios in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Climate forecasts, grid integration data, and energy demand profiles were also taken into account.

In all modelled scenarios, increased interconnection between countries improved grid stability and reduce energy costs, compared to ‘isolated’ grids. This would also provide protection against supply loss, for example due to extreme weather. According to the study “interconnecting countries can (…) serve as an additional benefit to grid stability and cost reduction in a 100 % clean, renewable energy world.” Interconnection can drive down cost by supporting market integration which is an important aspect of price formation.

A report from Connect Energy Economics, commissioned by the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA), states that an affordable largely CO2-free German and European power supply is feasible, if a sufficiently interconnected power market is in place. For all of the ten assessed scenarios with ambitious CO2 targets comprehensive use a European internal electricity market was considered an important.

The European Commission expects fossil fuel dependence will diminish as electrification of the energy system increases, driven by the deployment of renewables. Expansion of networks and interconnections across vast areas and borders, linking remotely generated renewable energy to a unified grid system, is essential to achieving Europe’s climate targets. At present, most of Europe’s energy systems are interconnected to some extent. In fact, Europe boasts one of the world’s largest regional interconnected power grids, with many countries exporting significant amounts of surplus power to their neighbours. The total installed capacity of the European power grid is the largest in the world. 

Europe’s Transmission System Operators are working to create a European internal electricity market. TSOs are facing the challenge of providing highly reliable national and international connections while maintaining the grid’s 50Hz frequency. Furthermore, they need to connect more renewable sources and ensure consumers can transmit surplus power to the grid.

The European Commission aims to achieve 15% interconnection by 2030. By 2030 each country’s infrastructure should be capable of exporting at least 15% of the electricity it produces – which seems to be attainable. The interconnection percentage varies strongly between countries in Europe at present. On the one hand, Denmark, has been able to reach 150-160% of local demand occasionally and exports surplus electricity to other countries .

Plans for a European Super Grid (ESG) are also on the table. The ESG would allow the EU to permanently leave out fossil fuels and also save between €12bn and 40bn annually. Eventually, it may even be possible to connect renewable resources in remote locations, from the Sahara to the Arctic and Asia. The European Super Grid may can help reduce reliance on liquid gas and oil and support European energy independence. The lower cost and increased efficiency of a well-interconnected system can also avoid a country’s energy supply being shut off as a result of conflict.

International grid interconnections are also essential to enabling energy independence by increasing the number of renewable sources in the energy mix, thus enabling countries to meet their own energy demands - or even export more power than they import. This allows nations to become less dependent on fossil fuel imports and increase their energy stability. Growing uptake of renewables makes it vital to further accelerate implementation of interconnection projects. A high level of interconnection will enable countries to exchange clean energy in a way that balances surpluses and shortages and improves efficiency, cost and reliability.

A conceptual plan of a European super grid linking renewable energy projects across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

European ‘Supergrid’ projects

Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Norway.

Europagrid United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Norway.

North Sea Offshore Grid Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg.

Low Grid Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

High Grid Europe and North Africa

ISLES Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland 

All Islands Approach British Isles countries

EU PowerNet Direct interconnection between all EU member state TSO-networks

As interconnection requires higher levels of power to be transmitted as well as lower losses, Prysmian sees demand for cables with improved electrical and mechanical performance. An important driver in the interconnector market is the need for cabling at ever-greater depths, requiring state-of-the-art armouring as well as cable laying expertise. Development of floating wind farms requires dynamic cables with improved internal performance.

Prysmian Group is proud to be a part of these leading European Interconnection projects

 

Western Link                                  

National Grid/Scottish Power

NSL - North Sea Link                                                      

National Grid/Statnett

IFA2

National Grid/RTE

Viking Link

National Grid/Energinet

NeuConnect

NeuConnect Britain Limited & NeuConnect Deutschland GmbH