Contrary to the Stanley Kubrick reference there is actually nothing wrong with building a supergrid. In fact, it’s actually a fantastic idea. A supergrid is an electric power grid on a mega-scale that connects various countries together, moving electricity from where there is excess supply to where there is demand.
The supergrid in question is an envisaged European high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cable power grid connecting different regional countries, Iceland and even North Africa and the Middle East.
We’ve talked about the supergrid being a great idea, and connecting different countries together in one big grid means: better energy security and reliability, better and more efficient use of the region’s renewable energy resources and energy generation capacity, which would translate to lower cost of electricity throughout Europe.
The supergrid could be nothing less than essential if Europe wants to ensure a sustainable future with low carbon emissions to tackle climate change. The idea would be that you could better utilize excess wind-generated electricity from northern regions and solar energy from sunny southern countries that would otherwise have been wasted as it wouldn’t be possible to store locally. You could also better utilize hydro power or even geothermal power sources.
It all sounds great, but of course, linking power nodes with high-voltage cables over great distances means there is a huge infrastructure cost to start with and that’s why the supergrid hasn’t been moving forward. A supergrid covering the European Union could cost upwards $130 billion.
But hopes for the project have rekindled after the UK expressed interest for a 900-mile cable linking the country to Iceland. UK’s PM, David Cameron, gave the supergrid plan his official backing back in January, but the recent move will make the Icelandic link the longest in the world and will allow the UK to tap Iceland’s oodles of geothermal energy. The UK’s Energy minister will be travelling to Reykjavik next month to discuss the proposed link.
Interconnectors in North West Europe will lead to electricity flows following the rules of supply and demand. So it will flow where it is needed, which is good for our security of supply,
the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) stated.
The Icelandic link is just one of many planned and proposed links between the UK and the continent, including links to Norway and its hydroelectric power capabilities, the Republic of Ireland with its windfarms and France and Spain. The UK is expected to become dependent on energy imports as its North Sea oil and gas supplies are running out.
Bad news is that the even if the link to Iceland is decided it will take many years to build, since a survey of the seabed, where the cable would be running at depths up to 9,000 feet, needs to be made to minimize environmental damage before it’s laid out.
The longest cable currently in planning is the EurAsia interconnector that would link Israel and Greece through the island of Cyprus, The total length of the cable comes up to 620 miles and would be running at depths up to 6,600 feet.
These are some great lengths that governments are going through to make sure you can keep your gadgets powered-up in the future. You could be charging your new, new, new, new, new iPad with electricity generated thanks to an Icelandic volcano, cool huh.