European Super Grid – press release

Expert unveils plan for a European-wide renewable electricity solution

At the fourth Claverton Energy conference, hosted by Wessex Water, Bath, international energy expert Dr Czisch outlined his strategy for a European-wide super grid that would supply all of Europe with entirely renewable electricity. Speaking at the conference Dr Czisch of Kassel University, Germany, also said the move to a renewable electricity system could cost the UK consumer the same as what is currently being paid, and, if there is the political will, he added that it could in theory be achieved in decades.

Dr Czisch, who has conducted research of world weather patterns and European electricity consumption on an hour by hour, day to day basis, says Europe could ensure its energy security, slash its CO2 emissions and have a sustainable, renewable electricity supply by employing a network of wind turbines that stretch across the continent from Siberia to North Africa, where the wind is most constant. This would be supported by biomass, coupled with an extended transmission system and existing hydropower plants providing storage capacity. In Dr Czich’s Czisch’s system wind would account for 70% of the electricity mix. Biomass and hydro would provide storage and back up and the biggest part of the remaining electricity production. All of this is the result of a mathematical optimisation that allows for maximum objectivity in searching for the lowest cost renewable electricity supply for Europe and its neighbourhood.

Dr Czisch states that biomass production in his system would not have to impinge on agriculture. Electricity in Dr Czisch’s system created by wind farms in North African countries would also be used domestically in each country, but the major part of the total electricity created by these North African wind farms would, as Dr Czisch’s optimisation calculated, be fed into the European super grid. Dr Czisch says this would create economic development in each of these countries, as well as a reliable renewable energy infrastructure, and in addition it would give each nation the prospect of good income and long-term employment.

According to Dr Czisch if the power stations and transmission system are installed gradually – e.g. replacing existing plants as they become obsolete – the annual investment costs for the new installations in the whole scenario territory – according to the base case scenario – would account for €52.1 billion for the wind power plants, €16.2 billion for biomass power plants, €6.4 billion for the HVDC transmission system and €2.7 billion for solar thermal power plants, totalling €77.5 billion. This is 0.6% of the EU’s 2002 GDP.

Speaking after the conference Dave Andrews, Claverton Energy Group secretary and conference organiser said: “A lot of negative comment has been made about wind turbines and wind power without regard for fact. Dr Czisch’s European super grid is a clearly defined long-term solution for our energy needs that does not include nuclear power or the building of more coal and gas fired power stations. This largely confounds the claims of various energy experts who claim renewables cannot meet UK power needs, who make this assertion without reference or criticisms of Czisch’s detailed analysis.”

Leading UK and international energy experts agree that technology already exists for a European super grid and that renewable energy is the long-term solution for energy needs. Godfrey Boyle and Prof Dave Elliott of the Open University, Dr Mark Barrett of UCL, ex-chief scientist and co-founder of Airtricity, Brian Hurley, who have all carried out their own studies into the practicalities and use of wind power and other renewables, as well as Chris Hodrien of Expansion Energy Ltd and Oxford University, and Oliver Tickell environmental campaigner and author of Kyoto2, have welcomed Dr Czisch’s idea for a European super grid. The experts agree that renewable electricity is the right way forward and urge UK and European governments and energy policy makers to investigate this further.

Notes to editors

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Link to paper – European Super Grid

The Claverton Energy Group, is an informal association, of independent energy experts, who regularly meet to exchange and challenge views.  It has no agenda and comprises scientists, engineers and bankers who wish to understand the energy situation and who believe it is a critical issue for clear government policy.

6 comments on “European Super Grid – press release

  1. Re: Dave Elliot’s points

    (to Dave A, copied from Yahoo)

    OK, I can see that he has just linked up a lot of big stuff from around the EU and surrounds, and that is good. Im glad to see he has Kazakhstan in since according to the EBRD that has a 2020 wind potential of 8,000 MW, but surprised that Turkmenistan with 10,000 MW is not included. The inclusion of Russia ( ERBD say 60,000GW by 2020) should however remind us that negotiating all this politically might be a little trickly!

    Other omissions are wave and tidal current power – I’d put that at maybe 10,000MW from the North sea by 2020 and it could be double that in your Mulbary harbour crash programme mode . Geothermal too is making a new showing – 10 GWe in place globally,

    Then there is the ‘decentral’ stuff. That doesnt necessariiy mean ‘off grid’ as you imply- its just dispersed with local sources being used where possible to meet local needs, with any excess being exported and any shortfalls being imported via the grid. . Its a no brainer, in energy/carbon terms, that we should do that first (or rather, after dealiing with energy waste/efficiency ) before investing in more expensive transmision than is needed. In economic terms it’s more complex. MARKAL type allocation models are blunt intruments- they just take the cheapest without any strategic and development sensitivities. For example, we may decide to build in more local storage, as heat or go to hydrogen as a buffer store – blurring the distinction between electricity and heat vectors. Optimising for electricity on least cost basis may not be optimising for energy as a whole. Which is why I see Gregors proposal as only part of a wider programme.

    Dave E

  2. From Dave A,

    Dear Dave E – pretty much agree with you – but don’t forget, Gregor was making the specific point that a scenario (one of many) worked at today’s prices, using known and costed technology.

    If wave or whatever else turns out to be cheaper etc, then that can be incorporated into a programme – but the key is to start planning to build the super grid.

    By the time we get there – 10 years hence, you can adjust whatever it is you want to plug in at the time….Best….Dave A

  3. Dr Negative said

    “Dear Dave

    This discussion about military production in WWII is an example of the lack of any willingness by Claverton members to be at all critical about they are saying.

    No one doubts the huge efforts during WWII made by all countries to increase military expenditure. But there is no counter balancing points made about the effect that this had on the civilian economies, across the globe.

    For example in the USA car production stopped overnight. In the UK petrol rationing led to a cessation of normal motoring. All normal maintenance work on the railways stopped. Women were conscripted into the land army and factories. I think the only major piece of capital expenditure which was done was the completion of Waterloo Bridge in 1942.

    All the European Countries that were fighting needed to sustain their economies by imports. In the case of Britain these were from the Commonwealth and the USA.In the Germany case it was done by forced imports from the occupied countries and Sweden.

    But the objective view in Germany was that, by and large, Western Europe had nothing to offer…these were advanced technological countries who sustained their peacetime economies by imports of coal from Germany and the UK, and by imports of raw materials from their overseas empires.It was this reason, perhaps, why Hitler wanted to starve the UK into submission rather than conquer it. The Nazis had got comparatively little from The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France and Norway.

    In my view, the UK is still living with the effects of WWII, since for a long time afterwards it had no money to spend on a genuine refurbishment of the economy.

    So please stop promoting a WWII type of drive as a solution to the our energy problems, as if there was no economic and political downside. When you are prepared to think through what this might mean in terms of switching resources from consumer durables and the service economy you will have written something worth reading

    Best regards

    Negative Fred

  4. Dear Negative Fred,

    I am not suggesting we need to go back to the appalling conditions endured during WW2, merely pointing out how easy it is to ramp up production if the will is there.

    I think what you are not admitting, is that the NPV of 250,000 tanks, airplanes and anti aircraft guns is not only in itself negative, since they do not go to any productive purpose and do not earn a return, but furthermore is negative to other economic activities since they are used to liquidate other resources including buildings and people.

    Also in WW2 vast numbers of men were conscripted into the army which is a fundamentally useless thing economically.

    If we spend the same money as was invested in guns, tanks etc the difference is, that they earn a real rate of return and therefore have a positive NPV.

    Hence by investing the 0.6% of GDP we are increasing net wealth, not liquidating capital as happened in Germany.

    Kind Regards

    Titanic Deckchair Logistics

  5. Can HVDC interconnectors be used for system balancing?


    I take this to mean that HVDC links of the modern type can quite readily be used for short terms system balancing, making the need for OCGTs redundant. Or have I completely got this wrong?

    Dave A

    From: An ABB person…

    Sent: 14 October 2008 18:46

    Subject: RE: Speaker on HVDC


    Yes, that is one of the benefits of HVDC – you are able to control the power transfer with a response time in the 100-ms range!

    Regards, L

    ABB Power Systems


    2008-10-13 11:28

    Please respond to
    < To L cc Subject RE: Speaker on HVDC Hi Lennart – great shame you cannot come but no problem Can I ask you a simple technical question please? With a typical modern HVDC line, is it possible to control the transfer? So in the case of a very high amount of wind power in say the UK, but with let us say 8GW of interconnections to the continent and Europe, to allow export of surplus and import during shortages, is it relatively possibly or straightforward to control the power delivered from / to the continent for the purposes of system balancing? That is, could control of HVDC import / export substitute for say either OCGTs or spinning reserve from coal plant? I would be interested in your views. Kind Regards Dave Andrews

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