The opportunity exists to power Europe and North Africa exclusively by renewable electricity by 2050, if supported by single European and North African regional power markets that in turn are underpinned by a “super smart grid.”
This is a finding in a new study from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in collaboration with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the European Climate Forum, which presents a policy roadmap towards a 2050 goal of achieving a 100% renewable power sector in Europe and North Africa.
To achieve this vision the grids of North Africa and Europe must be strongly interconnected. This would be achieved through the reinforcement of the high voltage AC grid, a pan-European, cross Mediterranean overlay high voltage DC super grid, and the introduction of smart technologies and a smart grid, which together comprise the “SuperSmart Grid.”
Further, the electricity supply system of North Africa and Europe in 2050 would be 100% renewable, following a continuous and steady transformation of the power system in parallel with sustained growth in demand. This renewable power mix would be geographically optimised with production at the most suitable sites across the two regions; and also the North African and European energy policies would be aligned and cooperative and the two power markets unified and united, allowing for free trading of electricity between all countries.
The study says that a renewables-powered Europe would change the landscape for consumers and business. Electromobility could be introduced on a mass scale, leading to day-to-day transport of people and goods without the CO2 penalty associated with fossil fuel. In North African countries, the provision of reliable and potentially unlimited solar electricity could provide the basis for substantial social and economic development across the region.
Meanwhile a group of ten companies have established the Friends of the Supergrid (FOSG) to progress policy towards the construction of a pan-European offshore supergrid to connect large scale renewable power generation across the region.
Through the combination of their respective areas of expertise, the FOSG members believe they have a unique insight into the policies needed to create the supergrid as well as the capability to deliver it in practice.
The companies are 3E, AREVA T&D, DEME Blue Energy, Elia, Hochtief Construction AG, Mainstream Renewable Power, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Prysmian Cables & Systems, Siemens and Visser & Smit Marine Contracting.