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November 26, 2007



A thinktank called the 'Club of Rome' has long been recommending a Europe-wide HVDC supergrid, mainly taking power from solar thermal installations in North Africa. You can read about the 'blue sky' project here:


They estimate that a high voltage DC line running from Morocco would have lost about 10% of power on the journey to Northern European countries like Germany and the UK. That is a long way, and considering how cheaply solar thermal (and according to this thesis, wind) could be generated in northern Africa and southern Europe. They also suggest adding in northern European wind farms into the network.

On a smaller scale (the first phase of the system if you are an optimist!) the European Wind Energy Association's 'trade wind' project:

Trade Wind

which is studying the possibility of linking a deeply offshore wind farm in the North Sea via HVDC to mainland Europe and the UK.

As you say, the main problem is political. However, this is something the U.S. should find much easier to push through politically (perhaps with involvement from Canada and Mexico?) - three countries much easier than the 30 or so that these two projects would have to co-ordinate.


I think there would be vulnerability of supply concerns. The EU has seen Russia play hardball with NG deliveries, and may well fear similar stunts might be pulled on electrical supply. Also the possibility of sabotage has to be considered. I hope something like this can occur, but the challenges are large. Fortunately small pieces could be constructed for regional needs first.


So long as the scheme was just within the EU, security of supply should not be a problem, because a member state who turned off the tap would (a) suffer loss of power themselves and (b) fall foul of the wrath of the other member states, which would presumably be nasty for their economies.

Russia may be more of a problem, but again, if this were a truly integrated grid, it would be hard for Russia to take away supplies from others' without also disrupting its own supply (its own wind farms would not amount to a stable generator), and it would also lose money. While Russia is flexing its muscles over Gas supplies, the current arrangement, as it knows, is symbiotic. Europe gives it lots of money, it gives them gas. Both would be set to lose if it is not available as a secure supplier.


HVDC lines are three times as efficient, making them cost effective over distances above 50 miles.

I really doubt the part about cost effectiveness at distances as short as 50 miles. If this were so, there would be many more HVDC lines in use. The high voltage, high power electronics needed to convert between AC and DC are quite expensive, making the use of HVDC lines economical only for long distances or for moderate distances under water.

I really do like the idea, though I see the the HVDC line and the AC/DC converter stations as being highly inviting targets for terrorists.



At what distance do they become cost effective? Do you have a source?

"If this were so, there would be many more HVDC lines in use."

You mean it's not possible that new technology has made them cost effective?

"I really do like the idea, though I see the the HVDC line and the AC/DC converter stations as being highly inviting targets for terrorists."

Hmmm. What about existing transformer stations and power lines?


Why don't they join this supergrid to the hdr enhanced geothermal power generation sources in Iceland

I agree with the problems one would have with Russia if involved in this plan


Some of this may already be underway:


ALGIERS - An Algerian company is planning to build a power cable to Germany to export solar-generated electricity from the Sahara, a state-owned newspaper reported on Wednesday.

I think Europe is going to treat this subject a lot more seriously than we are in the U.S. They don't have coal or gas reserves to fall back on, and nuclear is out of favor at the moment. Plus they tend to take global climate change a whole lot more seriously than we do in the U.S.

In terms of solar, the approach is more along the lines of CSP - concentrating solar power. A plant has been built outside of Seville Spain that illustrates the concept. Cheaper than PV, but evidently only practical on a large scale and not something suitable for individual homeowners.

The TREK-UK site has a Google Earth that shows the locations of a number of solar installations around the world. Some of the locations used to be only tentative - I had a few days off last summer, and I nosed around in Google Earth and found a number of them. These plants are large enough that they easily show up if you get in close enough (the pictures in Google Earth aren't always current, so plants that have been built might not always show up).


Regular HVDC (not HVDC Light or HVDC Plus) is, everything else being equal, supposed to be competitive at distances of around 600 km. They are working on bringing the costs down of the converter technology. HVDC has large advantages with distributed resources as they do not need to be synchronized as they would with an AC grid.

The PM

I just don't think tying 20% of your energy production to a single source that swings up and down so greatly is an efficient way to go. If we do go with such a high wind portfolio, utilities are going to need more peaker plants.


The PM,

It is called pumped hydro. France could be the `70-80% nuclear they are without it.

As the article also mentions going from the Sahara to Iceland to Siberia does even out the wind resources.


The whole idea behind having a large scale network, is that the sources are substantially decorelated. There are three ways to deal with intermittent sources:
(1) Vary consumption. Perhaps you only charge plugins when power is plentiful.
(2) Use some form of power storage.
(3) Have the network cover enough climate zones that variability is reduced.
An optimized solution would use each of these methods to some degree.


This is the old-world half of Buckminster Fuller's proposal for a world power grid.
Building it in pieces is clever, and probably politically necessary.
If extended across the Bering Strait, solar power could power the world with no storage.


I like it except for that I think they are overlooking a few small details. This project is to replace their current energy production capabilities, but by the time it is built (if that is) the demand will be far higher by all estimates.

Secondly, what happens when the Moroccans and other African nations decide they want the electricity generated by THEIR wind? ...unless they are included from the get go in the consumption estimates. On that note then, watch out--the developing nations' electrical demand will grow a lot faster and unpredictably.

I also think its rather an article of faith that "the wind always blows somewhere", but does it blow intensely enough in the grid area to meet the demand of the whole grid? It's not just dead still air that hurts productions--high winds, especially storms hurt it too. What about the energy cost of manufacturing and building these turbines...of maintaining them?


In a lot of markets such as Japan and California, energy consumption has been essentially de-coupled from economic growth, so the assumption that energy use will increase hugely in Europe may not be valid - energy has been cheap, so essentially we don't use it very efficiently, there is lots of room for improvement.
As for Morocco and North Africa needing all the energy they can produce, the wind resource is absolutely vast and you can allow almost any growth you like in their own consumption without affecting their ability to export capacity.
It should not be forgotten either that North Africa is also excellently placed to harvest sunshine either through thermal or photovoltaic power.
The potential there is many orders of magnitude greater than any conceivable use.


There is a new world wide web emerging right before our eyes. It is a global energy network and, like the internet, it will change our culture, society and how we do business. More importantly, it will alter how we use, transform and exchange energy.

For more information, see http://www.terrawatts.com


In a way this supergrid is already being built: There are already a number of HVDC connections between Scandinavian countries. Germany is connected to Sweden with two HVDC cables, a cable between the Netherlands and Norway has just been completed, a cable between the Netherlands and the UK is in planning. A connection between the UK and France already exists.


Just wanted to share this interesting energy calculation workbook I found online It is cool. It actually shows you how to measure the amount of energy that your car really needs!! (as opposed to how much gas it eats). It also shows you how to measure the difference of energy used at low speeds and high speeds, lets you calculate the engine’s energy efficiency, and how your car’s energy compares to other things like energy in your home. It also discusses wind and solar energy, vehicle to grid technology (V2G) as well as electric and hybrid cars.


This link is also very interesting ...

Kit P

"It is cool."

No, it is an expensive book.


I think the good Electricity Supply Europe with Wind Power.

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Wind Turbines produce FREE power!

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We have been using electricity our entire lives. We use it at home, at the office and at school. Everywhere we go, electricity plays a big role.

This is perhaps one of the biggest businesses around today. But lately, electricity cost in on the rise.

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Investing on wind power is generally a very good idea. It is reasonable to purchase an expensive wind turbine; the cost that will be incurred is basically the same as paying for your monthly electricity for 3 to 4 years. There are also some companies and online sites that sell cheap and very efficient wind turbines.

“How does wind power provide us electricity?”

check this out..


chester jacob

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don bartell

Wind Power is the answer to one of our financial problems.

check this site also...


chester jacob

if you are interested in learning exactly how to generate power and reduce your bill then this is the perfect resource for you!


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PJM's power usage reached 136,398 megawatts on Tuesday, the highest since 2007, and was expected to climb even higher to about 137,800 MW Wednesday afternoon.

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The new energy has started by the members of the supergrid.It is a must that the world will be looking for another alternative method to meet the ever-growing demand for energy and the anticipation of the diminishing fossil fuel supply.

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