Can renewable energy power the world?
Can renewable energy power the world?

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Can renewable energy power the world?

8.7 European supergrids and DESERTEC

In the video activity in Section 8.2, on balancing renewable energy demand and supply, Dr Alistair Martin described how the UK, Denmark, Germany and several other European countries envisage an important future role for additional electricity connections between countries.

Given the varying weather conditions across the continent, how would additional electricity connections help countries cope with variable renewable electricity supplies?


The additional electricity connections would allow countries with temporary surpluses of renewable electricity to export these to countries in temporary deficit – and vice versa.

In the same video, Niall Stuart of Scottish Renewables described the even more ambitious DESERTEC-EUMENA proposal for electricity grid enlargement made by the DESERTEC Industrial Initiative, a consortium of large and mainly German companies.

As the video shows, it envisages strong high voltage direct current (HVDC) electricity grid links between Europe and the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries.

What would these grid links enable?


They would enable solar-generated electricity from the Sahara to be combined with wind power from the north-west African Atlantic coast, and other renewable electricity sources from central and northern Europe.

Now let’s move on to the question posed at the start of the course – could renewable energy sources power the world?


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus