Genesis Morocco: Bucky would be Proud, the integration of the Northern Grid is under way

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Genesis Morocco

Project Genesis is a strategic sustainable development framework for Morocco to translate from being a net importer of energy and a country facing water shortage issues, into the number one producer both of clean renewable energy and water in the region.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010    <<Home

Bucky would be Proud, the integration of the Northern Grid is under way

A important step in the worldwide grid integration envisioned by thinker Buckminster Fuller and a major asset for Genesis Morocco.

Taking a giant leap toward more and more reliable renewable power, nine European countries are joining forces with a plan to spend billions on new transmission lines connecting Norwegian hydroelectric projects, German solar arrays, British wind farms and more. This is a bold step into the future for Europe, which had its hopes for an international emissions treaty dashed during the Copenhagen climate talks last month.

So far, the agreement includes Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and the U.K., with official plans expected by the third quarter of this year. The timeline may not be rushed — with construction expected to begin sometime in the next ten years — but it represents the first holistic attempt to funnel renewable energy into Europe from disparate sources. It also puts the European Union’s goal of producing 20 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020 within reach.

To give you a sense of the scale, rough plans earmark $48 billion in spending for DC power cables alone. This is the core of the project — the need to install several thousand kilometers of transmission lines. DC lines are said to lose less electricity over long distances. By uniting several different types of alternative power, these lines will make it possible for German solar to keep the lights on in the U.K. when the wind isn’t blowing. Alternatively, British turbines could keep the Belgians warm when skies are gray.

When the North African solar project is complete, this new grid may be extended to take advantage of some of the most abundant solar resources on the planet. Set to have a generation capacity of 900 megawatts by 2020 (enough to power 900,000 homes), the North African installation is just the beginning in that sunny region.

While solar has stolen the spotlight in Europe, with Germany and Spain leading the global market by no small margin, Europe also has its sights set on becoming a wind powerhouse, with 100 gigawatts of offshore wind under consideration. That’s huge — 100 gigawatts could potentially power 100 million homes. On top of that, Norway is pumping 27.5 gigawatts of hydroelectric onto the continent, and its only using half its capacity. If it could only better export this energy, it could bring in a substantial amount of revenue from its neighbors.

This sounds great, but hooking such a diversity of renewables into one grid poses an enormous engineering challenge. With analysts noting that the U.K. in particular has lagged in Smart Grid development, there are some doubts that Europe has the technical leadership to expedite the transmission project. There’s a general talent shortage in Europe that needs to be turned around first.

But, if these nine Northern European countries do succeed in moving things along, this could exert pressure on both China and the U.S. to get their act together when it comes to renewables. If any region is lacking in the necessary human and natural resources (sunlight in particular), its Northern Europe. So if they can do it, there’s little excuse for everyone else to twiddle their thumbs.

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Personal notes : The pieces are coming together for the future integration of the Northern grid with that of Genesis Morocco and Desertec on a larger scale. I have never doubted that that which makes sense strategically and economically is bound to happen, as logic seems to follow some path of least resistance. Just like water in fact. This other excerpt from The Harmonist is very interesting "it could act as a giant 30GW battery for Europe’s clean energy, storing electricity when demand is low and be a major step towards a continent-wide supergrid that could link into the vast potential of solar power farms in North Africa." : I would say it goes both ways, once the Maghreb implements a grid similar to the Northern Grid, we will dispose in fact of two such giant batteries that 1/can complement themselves for optimum peak coverage and 2/ can be linked to other regions of the world such as northern america and the middle east in order to distribute energy over several timezones.