All around the world, there is more and more attention that is paid to the energy consumption, energy sources and contemporary energy issues. Thus, in Europe, there is a plan how to approach all the required changes. This energy strategy of The European Commission requires that 20 per cent of all energy consumed within the EU should be from renewable sources by 2020. It is estimated that 12 per cent of overall energy use should be supplied by offshore wind and member states are required to implement sufficient grid capacity to accept wind power.
The European Union has also constricted legislation on the internal electricity markets, and imposes that Transmission System Operators (TSO’s) comply bi-annual transmission development plans. The program is intended to create a single electricity market across Europe and the aim is to achieve improved system operation, fair access for renewable generation systems, and greater cooperation between TSO’s.
By 2050, these long term energy strategy targets will lead towards an 80-95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The new development of the European grid infrastructure has to consider the current issues of enabling connection to wind power and delivering electricity from offshore wind to immediate targets.
The requirements for a new European infrastructure
In addition to the integration of renewable energy, Europe can achieve several benefits from a complete and continental wide electricity network structure. The cost of the move towards a carbon free society for individual countries will be reduced by a fully interconnected grid utilizing smart technology. This can immensely develop and improve the security of service for consumers, and guarantee efficient use and lower prices by the routing of energy to specific areas of demand. Also, it also rises competition in the energy market in Europe.
It is planned to redevelop the infrastructure across 34 European countries. This includes initiatives towards up to five hundred investment projects with 23 to 28 billion euros over the next five years. It is estimated that approximately 35 thousands of km of new transmission lines will be required for the networks connecting 525 million people over the continent. This stands for a significant proportion of 14% of the total existing transmission lines, and the TSO’s responsible plan to carry out 44% of this work in the coming five year period, with the remaining 56% to be undertaken in the following five years.
If we consider the matter of the renewable energy, the connection of wind power to the European grid demonstrates its own specific issues, which must be overcome on a global level to enable full integration. The generation plants are usually remote and far from the areas of high demand and storage, so measures have to be taken to develop transmission lines to connect wind farms to the grid. Moreover, innovation is required in high voltage long distance transmission and electricity storage technology. Wind power is a highly variable energy source by its nature, and networks have to cope with periods of minimal generation as well as periods of high production. Interconnecting grids between countries must be able to allow the exchange of electricity. Also, congestion management and transmission efficiency will take on far greater importance.