Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: Regulation 347/2013 on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure identifies the deployment of several transnational electricity grids among the energy infrastructure priority corridors. Its design, development and deployment include technical, financial, management, regulatory and policy viewpoints.

The first commercial HVDC projects have implemented point-to-point connections, point-to-point and multi-terminal deep off-shore grids. Meshed off-shore grids linking several off-shore wind parks with on-shore grids in different countries and with other available generation resources are urgently required to provide additional flexibility, efficiency, security and market access to off-shore wind resources. Its deployment is delayed through a number of barriers: lack of agreement among operators and manufacturers on architectures, control structures and interfaces to ensure interoperability and multi-vendor compatibility of equipment, lack of market rules and revenue streams allowing the build-up of a suitable financial package (combining, innovation actions with European debt instruments and financing coming from other sources, national, regional or local), permitting and environmental compatibility, and operation and management of these grids from legal, technical and market point of view.

In order to achieve full interoperability and coherent market rules at European Level it is encouraged having a wide representation of the Grid stakeholders and operators addressing a complete European approach.

Scope: The proposals should prepare the first phase for deployment of innovative components of interoperable meshed off-shore HVDC network technologies, services and tools architectures. It is expected that the projects will cover TRL6 or 7, bringing them to TRL 8, with a path to TRL9 in follow-up projects (please see part G of the General Annexes).

Initial technology elements leading to meshed off-shore grids shall first be trialled at full scale as additions to planned off-shore projects (cables and hubs). Appropriate mechanisms to cover risks and potential losses to the commercial operation of these underlying projects shall be investigated.

The proposals should be based on the results of the existing projects funded under the Seventh Framework Programme dealing with the development of innovative components of interoperable HVDC network technologies, services and tools architectures or be closely synchronised through active cooperation in order to ensure a seamless transition without gaps in time or technology. The proposers shall deliver in the first phase a detailed study considering the economic viability and then develop a detailed deployment plan for future projects not only in the Northern seas, but in all transnational electricity grids as defined in the regulation 347/2013 on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure.

The proposals should include also a part to develop the appropriate policy, regulatory and financial framework. The project should include a focused and short part to seek agreement among network operators and major equipment suppliers on a technical architecture and on a set of multi-vendor interoperable technologies.

The proposals should further elaborate on finished and running projects on the economics of meshed HVDC off-shore grids through reduction of the typical uncertainties of such economic studies and define possible routes for a reduction of costs and risks.

The project(s) should be seen as a “phase one” project; therefore it should include a compulsory plan that clearly defines all the actions needed to lead towards “phase two” leading to full commercial operation ideally before 2020. Consortia should include a limited number of key partners from manufacturers, TSOs, and renewables operators, and should cooperate also with relevant regulators and authorities.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 30 to 40 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: The proposals are expected to cover all the general impacts listed below:

  • Accelerating the deployment of meshed HVDC off-shore grids, with particular emphasis on Northern Seas partner countries, before 2020.

  • Ensuring that the technology will be ready for deployment in other regions in Europe for all transnational corridors defined in the trans-European energy infrastructure regulation, or be compatible (plug-and-play) with other upcoming technologies (e.g. ocean energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, etc. as soon as these technologies are ready for similar capacities).

  • Ensuring plug-and-play compatibility of all relevant equipment of the key suppliers.

  • Preparing for corresponding priority infrastructure projects identified under the trans-European energy infrastructure regulation.

  • Facilitating the efficient connection of off-shore wind resources to on-shore loads and with other available generation resources for balancing, covering the main Northern Seas partner countries.

Type of action: Innovation Actions

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