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

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7 European supergrids and DESERTEC

In the video activity in Section 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.

Activity 1 Variable weather conditions

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

Answer

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.

Activity 2 Electricity grid enlargement

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?

Answer

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, returning to the question posed at the start of the course – could renewable energy sources power the world?