A transmission system that can transport huge amounts of energy underwater over long distances and connect several places simultaneously.
This is the goal of a new, ambitious research project at Aalborg University (AAU). Among other things, the research may be used to provide Indonesia with a greener and more reliable energy supply. Also, the technology is important to create energy islands, which are considered to be a central part of the climate solution of the future.
- The project's perspectives are of global interest, says research leader Filipe Faria da Silva, who is an Associate Professor at AAU Energy.
Today, a so-called HVDC (high-voltage direct current) system is used to transport energy over long distances. The technology is mainly relevant to cross long water areas, where the energy is transmitted via subsea cable connections. But it is difficult to connect an HVDC system with more than two points if some are weak infeeds.
- You can make a connection between Denmark and the Netherlands, but if you want the same connection to go around multiple wind farms at a later point in time, it is a much greater challenge to design and manage the system, says Filipe Faria da Silva.
The goal of the research project is to change that by creating a multiterminal HVDC system able to connect to multiple weak grids.
- We want to be able to do the same things offshore, as we can do onshore, says Professor Claus Leth Bak from AAU Energy, who is also part of the project.
More than 270 million inhabitants
To develop a multiterminal HVDC system connecting weak grids that can supply power to millions of people is a new approach. This will be the scenario for the future energy islands and is also one of the current challenges in Indonesia, where the research project is based.
The project is funded by Danida - Denmark’s development cooperation activities under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The southeast Asian country is home to 270 million people, making it the world's fourth largest nation in terms of population. In addition, the majority of the country's energy comes from coal-fired power plants.
This is both negative for the green transition and for the population, who are experiencing declining fish stocks and declining harvests as a result. The country's consumption of electricity is also estimated to increase by 76 percent over the next 10 years.
One key challenge in Indonesia is that most of the country's population live on the island of Java, where there are limited opportunities for green energy. The country consists of more than 13,000 islands so there are other places with much more potential.
- With this new research project, we will be closer to having electric connections between the main islands, those with large potential for renewables and those with the large load centers. This will benefit the sustainability, the environment, and the security of the country's energy supply, says Associate Professor Filipe Faria da Silva.
Important for the Energy Islands
At the same time, the research will create scientific knowledge which is important when we establish the so-called energy islands. These are artificially created islands that, among other things, will connect offshore wind farms with several countries' electricity grids. It is considered to be a crucial weapon in the fight against climate challenges.
The Danish government is currently planning to build the world's first two energy islands in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea before 2033, respectively.
In a white paper by several prominent energy researchers from AAU and DTU, including Filipe Faria da Silva and Claus Leth Bak, the project is described as a Mars mission, which will create a paradigm shift in energy supply.
- A multiterminal HVDC system is a really good solution to be able to establish electrical connection to shore and multiple energy islands. It is also the most feasible solution for offshore power grids covering large ocean areas. With the technology, we will be able to solve a wide range of challenges, says Filipe Faria da Silva.
Highly discussed topics in the media, such as rising electricity prices in Europe and the lack of fuel for cars in England can also be remedied by a gradual electrification of European society.
- It can be achieved faster and better if the electricity networks, for example around the North Sea, can be connected. Multiterminal HVDC systems are the most feasible solution for electric power transmission offshore says Claus Leth Bak.
The project is called HVDC green: HVDC grid for interconnecting Nusantara
It is supported with 4.6 million DKK by Danida, Denmark’s development cooperation activities under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Implemented in collaboration with an Indonesian university and Indonesia's electricity grid.
Read more on Danida's research portal.
Research leader and Associate Professor Filipe Faria da Silva, AAU Energy
Tel: +45 9940 9280, mail: email@example.com
Professor Claus Leth Bak, AAU Energy
Tel: +45 9940 9281, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Journalist Mads Gregersen, AAU Communication
Tel: +45 9940 8416, mail: email@example.com