European offshore wind power will eventually switch to HVDC transmission

People attending the session — called “The HVDC Supergrid” — were told there are a number of studies and concepts exploring the idea of an expanded, inter-connected and much more efficient grid system for Europe. Currently, European offshore wind power uses Alternating Current (AC) transmission.

Session chair Richard Cooke noted that recent political developments indicate there is increasing pressure on expanding the current grid systems or even creating a supergrid covering all of Europe.

Cooke said the rapid development of the offshore wind turbines sector is one of the key elements driving calls for dramatic grid enhancements.

Carl Barker, chief engineer of Alstom Grid, said the evolution of DC grids will benefit from two different concepts currently being researched. One is a pan-European grid connecting all existing grids from northern Norway to North Africa. The other involves four to six national grids connected together.

In a later interview, Barker said the offshore wind energy sector will eventually use HVDC power mainly for economic reasons. “If there was a supergrid, it would have to use DC.”

He suggested that the use of HVDC could start in the United Kingdom’s offshore wind power sector by 2017.

Mihai Paun, network and system development adviser at the European Networks of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, said an integrated offshore wind power system would help reduce Europe’s energy security supply concerns.

By Chris Rose,