As global demand for electricity continues to grow, and as concerns over climate change mount, the importance of meeting power needs while reducing costs and climate impacts is increasing. One emerging solution is the concept of supergrids – carefully planned networks of high-voltage transmission systems that span countries, continents and eventually the globe to enable the integration of renewable power on a bulk scale.
According to a new report from Navigant Research, global supergrid investments are expected to increase from $8.3 billion in 2016 to $10.2 billion by the end of 2025.
“While regional supergrids could bring cleaner, more-efficient and more-cost-effective electric power systems, their development is complicated by a number of factors,” explained Jessica Lewis, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “These include limited political will, lack of harmonized standards, complex authorization and permitting procedures for cross-border transmission projects, and a conventional view of energy security as a national imperative, with individual countries reluctant to leave their supply security in the hands of others.”
Though complications exist, the report says the idea that coordinated supergrids would allow high-volume electricity trade across long distances and facilitate development of renewables where the resource potential is strongest, rather than where it is most convenient, is driving interest. According to the report, the Asia Pacific currently represents the largest regional market for supergrid investment – accounting for an estimated 66% through 2025.