Cardiff Uni working on 'super grid' Wind Power for Europe

Researchers at Cardiff University are working on ways of developing a 'super grid' for sharing wind power across Europe.

The team hopes to find ways of bringing renewable energy into homes and businesses, cutting down on fossil fuels.

Working with Leuven University (KU Leuven) in Belgium, the MEDOW (Multi-terminal DC Grid for Offshore Wind) project is investigating ways of sharing power generated by offshore wind farms.

Professor Nick Jenkins, Leader of Energy at Cardiff School of Engineering, said: "Wind power is a source of clean, renewable electricity. We need to make more of it to become less reliant on expensive imported fossil fuels. In 2012, over half of the energy that the EU consumed was imported from outside the Union."

MEDOW is working to develop a direct current or 'DC' grid - an efficient way of transmitting and sharing power. A pan-European grid, rather than single point-to-point connections, will reinforce reliability and help balance power supply and demand.

Academic and research staff from Cardiff and KU Leuven have been meeting to share views on how to access funding from the EU under the Horizon 2020 programme. The idea of a European renewables power grid is widely supported, and backed by the environmental charity Greenpeace.

Professor Jenkins added: "New wind farms are likely to be placed offshore, where wind speeds are higher and turbines less intrusive. As offshore wind power is generated a long way from where it is used, we need to find better ways of transporting the power to the onshore grid.

 Increasing our use of wind power will also support the future electrification of heating and transport, which could make a big difference to carbon emissions and reliance on fuel imports."

MEDOW is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded by the European Commission and is coordinated by Cardiff University's School of Engineering. The team is working with five universities and six industrial organisations with expertise in the manufacturing, design, and operation of multi-terminal DC grids.

The Cardiff team hope their research will form the basis of a pan-European electricity transmission network to deliver a single European electricity market, develop sustainable energy technology and create jobs.

Professor Jenkins added: "Energy affects nearly every aspect of our lives and so finding ways of ensuring a cleaner, affordable and more secure energy supply is not an ideal: it's essential."

Dr Jun Liang, of Cardiff School of Engineering and principal Investigator of MEDOW, said: "Thanks to collaboration with other partner universities, including KU Leuven, regular technical discussions have inspired our ideas.

We've been able to introduce each other to our industrial partners which broaden the vision of our research and help share the outcomes."

Whilst searching for a grid solution, the project is helping to train early career researchers and will create a pool of researchers and expertise from academia, research institutes, manufacturers, and operators developing DC grids.

MEDOW's international partners include Universitat Polit??cnica de Catalunya (Spain); Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (Denmark) and China Electric Power Research Institute (China).

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