The concept of a European supergrid was rubber stamped by MPs this week, albeit with a number of caveats based on the enormous costs involved in the project.
Whilst it isn’t a new idea, and indeed there are in existence already cables that cross the channel to provide nuclear energy produce in France to UK consumers, as limitations in the UK grid become more apparent, it’s clear an overhaul is needed.
The benefits of a pan-European grid are manifest – surplus energy, currently wasted, could be sold to areas in defecit. Excess production from offshore wind could be funneled south in winter, where solar energy sees diminishing production, whilst vice versa in summer months.
A supergrid could also solve the complaints of Scottish renewable energy producers who claim they are penalised under a system of connection charges that favours energy production closer to population centres. Under a revised system renewables produced off the Scottish coast could connect to a wider pan-European grid at a lesser cost, and could be sold to a wider customer base during excess production.
All in all, it’s certainly a compelling proposition, but initial costings make the expenses surrounding the development of offshore wind look like loose change.
That said, the ambition for wider European cooperation on energy in the face of the continent’s large amounts of imported power, makes a lot of sense.
Realistically, it’s probably a matter of time, and, indeed, the Desertec scheme unveiled in recent years, is an example of a concept, which, once published will continue to slowly gather momentum.