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Meanwhile, in Western Europe, transmission expansion is driven largely by aggressive European Union renewable energy targets for 2020, according to Plas. Germany is looking at grid improvements to correct growing difficulties on existing north-to-south lines transmitting wind power. The German government has okayed a proposal to build 1,740 miles of high voltage new lines (AC and DC), and upgrade 932 miles of existing grid, he said.
“Plans for a 1,400 MW HVDC link to benefit from Norway’s hydro potential are a promising answer to help Germany meet its renewable energy objectives,” Plas added.
France also is investing in transmission to accommodate renewables and improve security of supply, he said. The grid operator RTE plans to invest EUR 15 billion on the nation’s grid by 2020 and an additional EUR 20 billion by 2030.
The North Sea Grid, one of the largest green transmission projects underway, would link 100 GW of offshore wind for Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. The project is expected to begin operating in 2023.
Table 1 describes some of the country-specific highlights of international grid storage. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy.
Several major transmission projects are underway in the U.S. to move renewables from remote places to heavily populated regions.
In the Northeast, Transmission Developers Inc. plans to begin construction in 2014 on a 1000-MW DC line to move hydropower 333 miles from Canada to New York City. A second project to move hydro from Canada to the U.S. Northeast remains mired in controversy. Northern Pass, being planned by Northeast Utilities, would bring 1,200 MW from Hydro-Quebec into demand-heavy southern New England. However, the line would pass through New Hampshire, where it faces vocal opposition from property owners.
Offshore transmission projects also are in planning, particularly along the U.S. eastern seaboard, for yet-to-be built offshore wind farms. A partnership that includes Internet giant Google continues to move forward with plans to develop an offshore super grid, a 300-mile DC line from Virginia to New Jersey.
Because of large additions of wind power, particularly in the West and Midwest, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation is taking a careful look at transmission and wind integration issues. Technical and policy issues have led at times to wind curtailment, especially when transmission systems are undergoing maintenance. These curtailments are likely to continue until the U.S. expands its transmission network, according to NERC. The organization is studying wind integration with the grid operator in California, a state that expects to add 11,000 MW of variable resources over the next eight years.
In all, the Edison Electric Institute has identified 150 transmission projects valued at $51.1 billion that are planned for the U.S. by 2023. Most of the projects – about 76 percent – support the integration of renewables, EEI says. The utility organization expects transmission investment in 2014-15 to remain significantly ahead of where it was in 2011. But it has ratcheted down its long-term forecast because of falling electricity demand in the U.S.
So what’s the big picture for 2014? New inroads for energy storage and continued expansion for transmission systems, as green power supply reshapes how, where and when we move electrons on the grid.
This article is part of our Renewable Energy World January/February Annual Outlook Issue for 2014, which will be published on February 10, 2014. The issue includes our Global Directory of Suppliers. If you are not already a subscriber, why not subscribe now?
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