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Project RETE-TRA 2016

Evolution and development of the power transmission network

Power System Research


Antonella Frigerio

In order to support current European energy policies, the development of a pan-European power transmission infrastructure must be promoted to facilitate the transfer of large amounts of electricity across countries and the injection of power into the grid, to integrate new technologies, especially those based on variable renewable energy sources (VRES) generation, often located far away from consumption centres over long distances, and to foster the process towards the build-up of a fully-integrated energy market.

The Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) is the technological driver of the European energy policy whose aim is to promote the transition towards a low-carbon, secure and competitive energy system. This energy transition must take place within the five closely related and mutually reinforcing dimensions of the Energy Union strategy: security, solidarity and trust; a fully integrated internal energy market; energy efficiency; decarbonising the economy; research, innovation and competitiveness.

In this energy transition, the evolution and development of infrastructures are among the priorities of the European energy agenda. In order to ensure supply in every EU country and to create an integrated energy market, an optimal, and above all co-ordinated, investment planning is mandatory to adapt, improve and develop the current power grids. At this stage, it is also important to exploit the various innovative technologies, already available or in progress, to facilitate the integration of energy from nonprogrammable renewable energy sources and the free flow of energy across borders. In the latter case, in the Energy Union Package the European Commission called for rapidly implementing all the measures needed to achieve the minimum interconnection targets in each Member State in 2020 and 2030 (respectively 10% and 15% of the installed electricity production capacity). At present, Italy is one of eight EU countries that does not meet these goals.

The activities carried out in this Project take place in this background.

In order to precisely and adequately evaluate the impact of the transmission grid expansion in terms of economics, reliability and security of the system, the development of simulation tools is ongoing. The aim of these tools is to be robust enough to analyse large-size composite generation and transmission systems and flexible as well to adequately take into account innovate technologies and evaluate their effectiveness.

At the same time, social and environmental perspective should be taken into account in the planning and authorization process of power grid expansion as these projects are often hindered and delayed by strong local opposition rather than technological limits. In order to speed up the authorization process, a multidisciplinary approach that combines the development of decision support tools with studies aiming at creating a more effective involvement of local populations has been proposed and tested within the European Project INSPIRE-Grid.