8 June 2017 - Offshore wind is becoming more and more vital for the energy transition in the European Union, which aims to have completely carbon-free electricity by 2050. Wind energy is estimated to become the most widely adopted renewable energy by then. But for this to happen, “business as usual” for electricity infrastructures will not be enough to meet the ambitions of the political agenda. Grids have to be fit for transmitting big quantities of electricity from remote places and overcoming the unsteadiness.
The first of the five large-scale demonstrations of the Best Paths project contributes to a better understanding of the complex interactions and related risks occurring where large offshore wind farms are grid integrated with high voltage links. This real-time demonstrator for the integration of offshore wind farms using Multi-Terminal High Voltage Direct Current (MTDC) grids has been presented at Offshore Wind Energy in London on 7 June, in the world’s largest offshore wind energy gathering.
Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University, Dr Carlos Ugalde said during the presentation “This innovation is a major contribution for Transmission System Operators, utilities, manufacturers and the Academia to create common knowledge that will sensibly de-risk the use of MTDC technologies to integrate offshore wind farms to onshore grids. The demonstrator will contribute to show that an MTDC grid provides additional flexibility and an increased reliability, while enabling cross-border energy exchange between countries. Our next steps in the project will validate the results obtained using computer simulations and will make the demonstrator available for Research and Development activities”.
Operators and manufacturers are now considering High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) solutions instead of High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) for offshore transmission systems mainly due to their high efficiency, reliability and bulk power transmission over long distances. But while currently HVDC manufacturers provide “black boxes” with limited information, Best Paths intends to provide open models and tools to assess the transmission grids of the future.
The set of models has been compiled in a simulation toolbox, made available to the public on the Best Paths website. The open access toolbox enables researchers and offshore wind project managers to test the system configuration of their choice. With it, Best Paths partners have already tested five different configurations from a simple point-to-point HVDC link to a twelve-terminal HVDC system with offshore DC links.
The simulation toolbox has already gained good visibility, as it has been downloaded by 60 users so far, including Universities, companies and research centres, and brought 1,300 new users to the Best Paths website.
You can have a look at the presentation on the demonstrator for offshore wind integration here