On Monday 2 May transmission system operators, technology providers and the wind industry came together to formally launch the READY4DC project. READY4DC will create a community of experts to work out recommendations on how to plan and build an interoperable and expandable direct current grid in Europe. The project is supported by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme.
Europe needs to expand and optimise its grid infrastructure. It currently invests around €40bn a year in its electricity grids. To reach the EU’s Green Deal objective of climate neutrality by 2050 annual grid investments need to double by as early as 2025. The European Commission expects that investments in the power grid will make up 18% of all necessary investments required to transform the EU energy system.
Direct current (DC) grids will play a major role in Europe’s future grid infrastructure, both offshore and onshore. DC grids use power electronics which will radically transform the power grid, increasing its efficiency and allow for more flexibility. Both aspects, efficiency and flexibility, will become crucial with the ongoing electrification of Europe’s energy system and the ever-increasing shares of renewables in its electricity mix.
Multi-terminal high voltage direct current (HVDC) systems, integrating multiple converter stations from a variety of technology providers (multi-vendor), will be particularly important for the development of an interoperable and expandable offshore grid. They will play an essential role in connecting 450GW of offshore wind across Europe by 2050.
But innovation in DC grids comes with interoperability challenges. Interoperability means the ability of devices within the power grid to exchange information and make us of it. Since 2020 transmission system operators (TSOs), HVDC technology suppliers and the wind industry have been joining forces to build a roadmap on how to solve the technical challenges on the development, delivery and deployment of multi-terminal, multi-vendor HVDC systems.
With the READY4DC project the three sectors are now starting a new phase of this collaboration. The project is supported by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme and coordinated by RWTH Aachen. It will create a community of experts which will assess the major technical and legal aspects of building an interoperable multi-vendor DC grid in Europe. The READY4DC project will last 18 months.