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Is a "Super Grid" the Next Natural Step for Europe?

Todd Carney's picture
Writer, Freelance

Todd Carney is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Communications. He writes on many different aspects of energy, in particular how it...

  • Member since 2021
  • 114 items added with 22,548 views
  • Feb 22, 2023

As Europe faces further issues regarding energy sustainability, proposals for a long-term solution are coming from various places. The Irish Times had an interesting article that argued for a “super grid”. The idea would be that Europe would have a unified grid that powers most things that require energy. 

The main benefits of this proposal is that it could foster a faster transfer of energy, which could ensure that no nation is at risk for blackouts. Additionally, having a stronger grid could make people less reliant on fossil fuels, which would benefit the environment. 

The article places a lot of emphasis on the transfer of electricity, and generation of electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar. Their argument is that certain parts of Europe would be better to gain electricity from wind, while other ones would be better suited to gain energy from wind, so shifting this energy around could help all nations.

The writers cast doubt on the promise of hydrogen. They believe it is just a way for fossil fuel companies to buy time and money for themselves, while keeping the focus off of real solutions like renewable energy. They point out that the European Union has allocated hundreds of billions of euros to hydrogen, that would be better spent on the grid. 

The article argues that many organizations, like the United Nations, are already calling for unified solutions on climate solutions. Given that European nations work together on many issues, Europe is well suited to provide the kind of coordination that the UN has called for.

The piece seems skeptical about decreasing energy consumption, given that energy consumption in Europe has not decreased for 15 years. So, the only way for the EU to meet its goals on decarbonization is to increase the capacity of energy from renewable sources.

This is an interesting article, but it could have spent more time addressing potential critics. Integration can be a good thing, but before the War in Ukraine, Russia was a big energy partner for Europe, and the divorce from Russia has been tough for energy availability. What if a European nation goes rogue? They also could have spent more time discussing why hydrogen is actually bad. It is very difficult for renewable energy to currently meet society’s needs. So it is worth pursuing other energy sources simultaneously. Finally, with pieces like these, it is important to address the potential environmental damage from further reliance on electricity, like batteries, and how to prevent this damage.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 22, 2023

More interconnected grids would also give more opportunity to use HVDC tech

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on Feb 22, 2023

It would allow for more opportunities for energy technology investment.  But it would be open to a lot of terrorism.  It's not just Russia.  If it involved Spain, might it be open to terrorists supporting an independent Basque country?

Bruno ANDRE's picture
Bruno ANDRE on Feb 28, 2023

the concept of grid interconne cting most of the European countries with a common management and regulation already exist since last century. The connection of Irland via an HVDC connection similar to the UK links to France and Belgium will not change the game. The risk point out during winter was not the capability to have electricity, but to have electrons at a low cost due to the lack of nuclear power in France, the low level of water damps in teh alps and mainly to the german choice to stop nuclear power and move to gas turbines; Back luck, the Ukrain war stop the russian gas import at low cost and push to use much more expensive generation sources. The need to have investments in Electric grid reinforment and extension is permanent but must continue as before. The main question today for Europe is how to produce electrcity at low carbon level and the European Council has choosen to push for green H².

Todd Carney's picture
Thank Todd for the Post!
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