At its second annual Conference - Supergrid 2013 - on 19 March, the Friends of the Supergrid published two new Reports on the development of Supergrid technology. The first is an update of the Roadmap to Supergrid illustrating what technology is currently available, what is on the horizon and what common standards are needed. Specific emphasis has been give to technology enhancements in 2012, the role of energy storage systems, AC and DC grid controls and how Supergrid will integrate into the power system of the future.
The Report concludes that the pace of development of “Supergrid” technology has surpassed the estimate given in its 2012 Report, giving confidence that the first legs of Supergrid can be delivered within the decade.
The first multi-terminal HVDC projects in Europe are seen as the beginning of the development of larger HVDC Grids. HVDC technology can be complemented by AC in so-called Supernodes that can contribute to achieve the required security of supply in larger HVDC networks.
Although not precluding overhead line transmission, the Report focuses on the availability of underground and submarine cable technology, as this is considered to be one of the core technologies on which a future Supergrid would be based. The other core technology is the Voltage Source Converter (VSC) variant of HVDC, which is now available from multiple manufacturers.
New control and protection techniques will be required to implement such a widespread HVDC grid. Two key technologies still under development, either at the research phase or at the prototype testing phase, are identified: fast acting DC circuit breakers and DC/DC converters.
The second Report summarises the work of CIGRE and CENELEC in Supergrid technology. It presents an overview of the present “state of the art” across issues such as: testing of high voltage cables for DC applications, DC grid design, standardisation of DC voltages, HVDC grid codes and converters, voltage control and protection.
Want to read our Explainer on Renewable electricity and transmission; HVDC; and supergrids? Click here.