Integrating renewable energies within grids and their safety


Currently, emerging and industrialized countries are investing in large-scale renewable energies: in most cases, hydroelectric, wind and solar plants in remote regions. To deliver electricity to the consumer new transmission lines must be set up and existing networks expanded. This entails considerable risk, since the transmission of electricity is technically complex and there are external factors that endanger the whole process – or part of it – such as climate change.

It is not enough to build new hydro, wind and solar power plants. The electricity also has to be transported where it is needed as, in the case of renewable energy, the locations where the electricity is produced and where it is consumed are usually very far apart. Wind farms are built in areas where the wind blows strongly, while hydropower plants are built in deep river channels or mountainous regions, and large PV plants, in contrast, are built in sparsely populated areas with many hours of sunlight. However, the consumption centres – urban and industrial areas – are often located hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This poses enormous challenges to operators of power grids.

How is the electricity produced in new hydroelectric power plants in China, India, Brazil and elsewhere supposed to reach consumers if existing networks cannot handle the thousands of additional Giga watt hours? How will the electricity generated by offshore wind farms be transported to land?

Article published in: FuturENERGY July-August 2014