‘Pan-EU’ energy system could reduce costs by 32%, UCD Study says

Cost reduction is borne primarily from the expansion of European power flows
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Representation of a fully integrated pan-European Supergrid (Source: SuperNode)

10 February 2022

A fully connected ‘Pan-European’ energy transmission system could reduce energy costs by 32% compared to a ‘business as usual’ approach, a new study has found.

Commissioned by SuperNode and conducted by a team from University College Dublin’s (UCD) Energy Institute, the study evaluated the capabilities of Europe’s transmission system based on the SuperNode Energy Scenario for Europe 2050.

The 32% cost reduction is borne primarily from the expansion of European power flows, the study said. Derestricting power flows will allow the location of renewable generation to be optimised thus significantly decreasing the total installed capacity. While this scenario proposes an increase in transmission capacity, the costs are insignificant when compared to the cost savings in generation investment over the same period.

 

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Another key finding from the study is that the existing transmission system is not fit for purpose for Europe’s energy future. Without accelerated investment in infrastructure, Europe will face challenges with load shedding, generation curtailment and excessively high emissions. The failure to achieve decarbonisation targets will not just undermine international climate efforts but will adversely affect Europe’s economies and ability to compete on a global scale.

Modelling work also performed for the study demonstrates the net benefit of large investment into the development of new transmission assets to ensure more efficient utilisation of Europe’s renewable resources, and highlights some bottlenecks where investment is required, such as higher levels of grid storage.

Prof Andrew Keane, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Director, UCD Energy Institute who led UCD’s side of the study, said: “The existing transmission system is not fit for purpose for Europe’s energy future. 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 work done by the UCD team reconfirms the Irish and European grid reliability challenges,” said SuperNode market and policy analyst, Marcos Byrne. “This will only worsen as more renewables are integrated, unless a new mindset in grid development is adopted. The study shows a 32% energy cost reduction can be achieved by a pan-EU transmission system when compared to a ‘Business as Usual’ approach, highlighting that scenarios facilitating larger power flows result in lower system cost, to the benefit of energy consumers. 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.”

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