The Grid Report released this week by the IEA has shown clearly that investment in new technology for electrical grids will play a critical role in successfully transitioning to clean renewable energy. The report spells out the extent of development required for the decarbonisation of electricity grids and states that “an unprecedented level of attention from policy makers and business leaders is needed to ensure grids support clean energy transitions and maintain electricity security”.
“We must invest in grids today or face gridlock tomorrow,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said at the launch. “In less than 20 years, the world needs to build or refurbish 80 million kilometers of grid, equal to the entire existing global grid.”
Commenting on the report SuperNode’s Chief Public Affairs Officer, Christian Kjaer remarked that the IEA deserves praise for sounding the alert on the state of the world’s grids.
“It’s evident from the report that if we do not accelerate the deployment of grids and remove current barriers to grid technology innovation, less solar and wind will be deployed, meaning continued and greater reliance on gas and 80 Megatonnes of higher CO2 emissions in Europe alone, by 2050.Globally the queue for renewable energy projects waiting to be connected to the grid is now five times the amount that was added in 2022 ” said Kjaer.
The report identifies several bottleneck and trends to be addressed, including raw material shortages and technology deficiencies of copper and aluminum based transmission technology and the need to improve sustainability, e.g. the phasing out of lead and SF6 in grid equipment. It also highlights the need to ensure technological innovation, test innovative solutions by introducing regulatory sandboxes and “transitioning innovative approaches into the main business case after successful trial”.
“The report echoes SuperNode’s view that existing grids and current grid technology are simply not equipped to deal with decarbonisation. New technologies that can support the needed deployment of solar and wind energy must be encouraged and brought to market urgently, including High Temperature Superconductor (HTS) transmission technology. We need to see a step change in the development and introduction of enabling technology.”
Europe’s grids will require a meshed DC grid aka SuperGrid capable of delivering vast amounts power across Europe with the minimum quantum of cables, footprint and materials. Traditional copper cables are simply not capable of meeting that need. Next generation superconductors can enable such a future and SuperNode will be to the fore in providing that technology.”