Nine European countries have agreed to work together to build an electricity "super-grid" which will allow them to integrate their renewable energy production and storage facilities.
The nine countries – Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland and the UK – are planning a network made up of thousands of kilometres of highly efficient undersea cables that could cost up to €30 billion ($au47 billion).
The network would connect wind turbines off the coast of Scotland, solar panel arrays in Germany and wave power plants off Belgium and Denmark with hydro-electric dams in Norway.
More than 100 gigawatts of offshore wind projects are under development in Europe, mainly in the North Sea. Norway’s many hydro-electric dams could be used like a giant battery with surplus energy produced when winds are blowing being used to pump water uphill to be released through turbines and generate electricty when the wind and solar power being generated is inadequate.
The North Sea grid could link into grids stretching from the North African desserts across the Mediterranean, proposed for the even larger German-led plan for renewables, called the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which was launched last November. This aims to provide 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050 (or earlier).
The Desertec project plans to use concentrated solar power plants in Norh Africa and Southern Europe. In these plants, mirrors concentrate the sun’s rays on a fluid container and the super-heated liquid drives turbines to generate electricity.