In Dreams Begin Responsibilities: European Electric Grid Expansion Version

Michael Giberson

Today ten companies announce “Friends of the Supergrid,” a group dedicated to promoting policy support for a massive power grid to link offshore wind resource areas to European power markets. The project would also enhance the ability to trade power between regions. The group complements the “North Seas Countries’ Offshore Grid Initiative” announced in December 2009, but appears to have a somewhat broader scope.

Since I’m more focused on U.S. policy and markets, I’m not sure how these developments relate to two other very large scale transmission projects proposed for Europe, the SuperSmart Grid and the Desertec concept.

All of these project announcements represent pretty large scale dreams, but typically they are short on the responsibilities side of thing. Who’ll pay for a project that the Financial Times suggests may cost hundreds of billions of Euros?

The United States faces similar issues. Dreams of significant electric power generation from renewable sources appeal to many people (see also EWITS), but who wants the responsibility of paying for the needed transmission enhancements? That part of the dream remains a bit fuzzy. Hoping to help develop policy is the newly formed Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy, a group of mostly East Coast utilities that mostly don’t want to pay a lot to bring wind power resources in the central U.S. to their regions.