Europe on BEST PATH to developing high-capacity transmission networks

An ambitious research project focusing on the development of high-capacity transmission networks vital for Europe’s long-term energy goals and the incorporation of renewable energy sources was launched last week in Rome.

Partially funded by the European Commission, the €63 million BEST PATHS project (which stands for "BEyond State-of-the-art Technologies for rePowering Ac corridors and multi-Terminal HVDC Systems") unites nearly 40 expert partners, including leading organizations from research and industry, utilities and transmission systems operators, around five large-scale demonstration areas focused on ensuring increased network capacity and system flexibility in order to achieve the goal of delivering "affordable, reliable power in Europe from coast to coast." Among the challenges the project aims to tackle is the incorporation of innovative transmission systems and industrial solutions to link offshore wind farms and improve the interconnections of the entire power grid.

Vicente González López of Spanish transmission system operator Red Eléctrica de España (REE) and Best Paths project coordinator, said the endeavor "goes beyond the intrinsic complexity of the individual developments proposed, since the project is going to require an effort of coordination to jointly analyze the results of each individual demonstrations and evaluate their combined impact in the European power system of the future."

González López added that the project’s 39 key players "have joined together to deliver a substantial change to the power grid’s capacity and flexibility. They represent the entire chain of innovation in Europe, from universities and research centers generating new knowledge, the power industry developing new products, transmission systems operators and utilities, specifying their needs of new industrial solutions to allow the grid to better serve society."

Bridging the gap from often remote renewable electricity production to high-load consumption centers, BEST PATHS will focus on developing inter-operable multi-terminal high voltage direct current grids; innovative upgrading and repowering existing AC corridors; and superconducting high power links.

The experimental results of BEST PATHS will be integrated into European impact analyses to show the scalability of the solutions and will be made available as soon as 2018 to benefit replication across the pan-European transmission network and electricity market.

The project, which is receiving 56% of its €63 million budget from the European Commission and coordinated by REE, is set to run until September 2018.