Policymakers 'hold back Supergrid'

Regulatory and not technical barriers are blocking the creation of a single electricity market across Europe, says Friends of the Supergrid (FOSG) – a European industrial alliance advocating the creation of a pan-European transmission network.

FOSG says in its latest Roadmap to Supergrid Technologies that there are no insurmountable technological hurdles to the creation of a pan-European transmission network.

The latest industry assessment shows there has been significant developments in long-distance transmission, with technology advances either on par or ahead of the predicted curve.

“This report makes clear that the benefits to European consumers from a single electricity market will only be delivered if policymakers clear the regulatory barriers that currently block the building of a meshed grid network linking member states,” says Ana Aguado, chief executive of FOSG.

“We need a network, not a patchwork, if we are to deliver the full benefits of Europe’s transition to a low carbon economy. Technology is not a barrier, and it is already being used in other parts of the world to create networks of low carbon power, while Europe continues to sit in the slow lane.”

FOSG says since the first edition of the roadmap, published in 2012,  the development of supergrid technology has shown significant progress.

There have been big advances in high-voltage direct current (HVDC) voltage source converters (VSC) and HVDC cable system technologies.

The report says the underlying technology, VSC-HVDC transmission, has matured significantly since the first project was introduced 15 years ago. 

The benefits can also be seen in the increasing number of large-scale HVDC projects in operation, construction and planning.

FOSG says technology will not be the bottleneck in the development of the new European transmission network.

It says the EU, working through initiatives like the Connecting Europe Fund, must shorten the current lead time for grid infrastructure, so that a properly functioning single market, underpinned by a HVDC network, can be in place by the end of the decade.