€130bn European Supergrid "absolutely necessary"

The prospects of a European Supergrid are well within reach both in cost and available technology, the Energy Select Committee heard today. Linking up the UK with countries like Germany, […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The prospects of a European Supergrid are well within reach both in cost and available technology, the Energy Select Committee heard today.

Linking up the UK with countries like Germany, Norway and Switzerland, which have solar power or hydropower resources, could solve the problem of relying on intermittent offshore wind power in the UK, according to Friends of the Supergrid.

At the hearing in Westminster, Eddie O’Connor, President of Friends of the Supergrid said it could become a “profound trading tool” that was “absolutely necessary.”

Mr O’Connor added that implementing the Supergrid could cost 130 billion euros: “When you take that number, and you start to work out how much gas you’d have to buy, to supply the same electricity, you actually find that you’d pay for the 130 billion in eight years. From then on, you find the price comes down, and you have a free source of energy.”

Matthew Knight of Siemens Energy, also speaking for Friends of the Supergrid said: “The technology is available now,” adding that the concept of a supernode meant it was possible to act “now, or in the lifetime of the project.”

A supernode could collect local power, for example from an offshore wind farm, transform it to DC power and then take it to where energy it is needed.

Mr Knight referred to research by the organisation that found the cost of the Supergrid could be fractional. He told the Select Committee: “What is costs is pretty low. A fraction of a penny per unit for the electricity bill.” If the technology were to be developed by an entrepreneur, “it didn’t need to cost the public purse anything on top of electricity bills.”

However, some members of the Energy Select Committee questioned how much money might be diverted from renewable projects if it went towards building the Supergrid.