Smart transmission systems needed to achieve the full potential of renewable energies in Europe


Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — March 2, 2010 – Smarter power grids have a central role to move Europe towards a low carbon energy economy and a radical change in coordinated network planning and operation is needed to accommodate market liberalization and the increasing integration of renewable power sources.

This is according to the European Union’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan Information System (SETIS), led by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), and a recent JRC lead-authored report on transmission network planning focusing on the connection of wind power in Europe.

In the European Union, electricity grids are included among the low carbon energy technologies assessed as part of the strategy to achieve the energy and climate change policy targets (which include a 20 percent reduction of CO2 emissions and a 20 percent share of renewables in overall EU energy consumption by 2020).

According to SETIS, if the maximum potential is realized, the electricity grids could avoid up to 30 Mt/year CO2 in 2020 and 60 Mt/year CO2 in 2030 in the EU. The corresponding maximum cumulative CO2 emissions avoided for the period 2010 to 2030 would be up to 600 MtCO2.

According to the report there is a significant degree of fragmentation and inconsistency of the technical and regulatory rules adopted for wind power connection in Europe, although there have been preliminary attempts for increased harmonization of generation connection practices and promising initiatives for an improved interregional and international collaboration on planning issues.

Other findings of the report are that grid expansion should focus on achieving better coordination between the Transmission System Operators (TSOs) through integrated strategic planning and cross-border cooperation, and transmission planners should take a smarter approach to integrating sources such as wind, solar, hydro and wave, which do not generate consistent levels of power.

Further, the TSOs should prioritize the emerging challenge of integrating the future transmission system (hosting large-sized generation, both conventional and renewable) with smart distribution grids (embedding dispersed small sized energy sources and storage), and a more harmonized and market-based framework is required to overcome planning and regulatory differences at national level, and to realize the potential synergies between offshore energy projects and cross-border trade in electricity.