Harnessing the renewable energy available to us is key to ensuring sustainable and affordable consumer energy bills. The global renewable energy market was valued at €781 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach €1,754 billion by 2030. A recent GB study has identified that without co-ordination of offshore grid development, an additional consumer cost of €7 billion would result and at least 50% more assets would be necessary. The HVDC-WISE project will provide a wide range of tools and analysis to enable the development of this offshore grid.
To provide an illustration of the potential impact of HVDC grids, consider GB and the EC’s goals. Within the GB system, by 2050 it is expected that around 80-100 GW of offshore wind will be connected. Most of this will connect via a coordinated HVDC network which will continue to evolve from 2025 onwards. Around 80-90 GW of HVDC converter connections to the onshore GB network are expected to be installed. The scale of this HVDC converter penetration is around 50% larger than typical present-day winter demands within the GB system.
Currently HVDC networks are expected only to connect generation into a main interconnected system, or to complement onshore systems. In the future, to achieve a “net zero target” (the commitment to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases), the approach of HVDC systems must be not only to complement onshore AC systems, but to actively support, and ultimately form the dominant basis of integrated reliable and resilient AC/DC systems.
Furthermore, HVDC systems have lower overall investment costs than standard AC system. AC requires three conductors for transmission whereas DC only needs one or two conductors (depending on whether it’s a monopole or bipole system) which reduces material costs. Operational costs are primarily made up of costs due to electricity losses which are reduced for DC versus AC. The HVDC-WISE project will provide EU manufacturers with insights about system needs that are crucial to delivering the equipment that will fulfill customers’ needs and challenge competitors.