Best Paths – Transmission for Sustainability

EU 7th Framework Programme

The development of high-capacity transmission networks that can efficiently integrate rising shares of renewable energy is a key challenge for achieving Europe’s long-term energy and sustainability goals. Developing the right technology for grid integration and long-distance links also represents an area where international cooperation is needed. That is why nearly 40 leading European organisations from science and industry have joined forces with utilities and transmission systems operators for the largest EU-funded research project on energy transmission to date. Titled BEST PATHS, this initiative explores new avenues for delivering affordable, reliable power in Europe from ‘coast to coast’, focusing in particular on the removal of barriers to the large-scale penetration of renewable electricity production.

The consortium unites expert partners around five large-scale demonstrations to validate the technical feasibility, costs, impacts and benefits of the tested grid technologies. The focus of the demonstrations is to deliver solutions to allow for transition from High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) lines to HVDC grids, to upgrade and repower existing AC parts of the network, and to integrate superconducting high power links.

The IASS is in charge of the scientific coordination of this latter demonstration area (DEMO 5), which is dedicated to demonstrating the technical feasibility of integrating DC superconducting lines using magnesium diboride (MgB2) as the critical material. A demonstrator cable with a capacity of up to 3 GW will be assembled and tested according to international standards. These activities build upon previous experiments carried out through a collaboration between IASS and CERN.

The experimental results of BEST PATHS will be integrated into European impact analyses to show the scalability of the solutions, and will be made available as soon as 2018 to benefit replication across the pan-European transmission network and electricity market.

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