As the need for electricity grows and concerns about the climate push countries into transitioning to more renewable energy sources, the supergrid might arise as a potential solution to rising power needs and reducing costs and climate impact, and according to a new report from Navigant Research, investments into supergrids are going to reach $10.2 billion in 2025.
Navigant Research published its new report this week, Supergrids, analyzing the potential market for supergrids — large-scale, high-voltage transmission systems spanning countries, continents, and possibly even the globe one day. Such grids would allow multiple electricity generation technologies to input into one grid, creating a more reliable grid whilst simultaneously allowing the bulk integration of renewable energy.
For example, a supergrid spanning the Middle East and North Africa, with links into Europe, would be able to utilize the plentiful solar resources of the MENA region and the North European wind energy resources, and mitigate variability with the sheer availability of renewable energy resources across such a large swath of the area, including the varying climate conditions.
Just such an idea has been repeatedly posited, most recently earlier this year by Fraunhofer ISE, which investigated the role a supergrid between MENA and Europe could have in expanding renewable energy in North Africa, providing reliable and affordable energy to millions, while also creating stability for a European electricity grid.
Navigant Research’s recent report backs up the idea that supergrids might become more and more a potential solution, predicting that global investments into supergrids will increase from $8.3 billion in 2016 to $10.2 billion in 2025.
Supergrid Investment by Region, World Markets: 2016-2025
“Such large-scale, coordinated supergrids would allow high-volume electricity trade across long distances and facilitate development of renewables where the resource potential is strongest, rather than where it is most convenient,” the authors of the report explain. Yet, the development of supegrids is currently complicated by the lack of strong political support, regulatory coordination, and capital mobilisation — a problem that is facing the renewable energy sector throughout Europe as well.”
“While regional supergrids could bring cleaner, more efficient, and more cost-effective electric power systems, their development is complicated by a number of factors,” explained Jessica Lewis, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “These include limited political will, lack of harmonized standards, complex authorization and permitting procedures for cross-border transmission projects, and a conventional view of energy security as a national imperative, with individual countries reluctant to leave their supply security in the hands of others.”
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