17 September 2018 - By the end of 2014, after almost two years of contract negotiation with the European Commission, the Best Paths project took off and started a very long route that would last four years and that promised to be challenging. Among the most insidious tasks were the coordination of almost 40 partners spread through the whole Europe, a working field on the edge of competition vs collaboration and the complexity of the technical implementations.
Now reaching the conclusion of the four-years-long project, Best Paths’ coordinator, Vicente González López from Red Eléctrica de España, says: ”The many challenges are probably the reason why I feel really proud saying that, in this five years’ time, Best Paths has achieved almost 100% of its initial objectives. And these results have been obtained thanks to the hard work carried out by all partners, and to the outstanding commitment of Demonstration leaders which were working hard to achieve short-term targets in due time, putting the focus in project results and calendar instead of in project resources.”
The main focus of the project, and the area that has produced most significant results, has been the evolution of the transmission grid, ensuring its readyness to cover the market actors’ requirements in the new energy paradigm at an affordable cost.
This was achieved by speeding up HVDC grid development - both in terms of de-risking the use of different HVDC converter technologies within the wind energy generation, and by proving it is possible to fix some interoperability issues by adjusting control strategies by one single vendor; by validating technologies and solutions that will increase the grid capacity and flexibility by uprating and revamping existing AC and DC; and finally, by validating the extremely powerful solution of gigawatt-scale superconducting cables.
“Nevertheless,” continues Mr Gonzáles López “we must be aware that BestPaths is a demonstration project. The impact in the society will demand additional effort in solutions industrialisation and commercialisation, some topics will demand further research work.”
The European community is indeed set to further the research in the area, showing the clear commitment of very relevant actors in the electricity sector to move decisively in the process of transition towards a greenhouse gas-free economy.
Besides Best Paths, there are a number of on-going H2020 projects addressing topics closely connected with the ones addressed in Best Paths: MIGRATE, which deals with the system operation conditions on power systems 100% based on power electronic interfaces, PROMOTION, dealing with HVDC protection system and DC circuit breakers’ testing protocols but also many in the field of AC grid flexibility, like OSMOSE. In particular, the field of HVDC converters interoperability and control standardisation or the economic viability of superconducting links are topics that elicit much interest and will likely stimulate further research and investments.
“Considering that transmission grids represent the backbone of the new energy system,” Mr Gonzáles López concludes “investment in the future grid is mandatory, if Europe wants to continue leading the transition process world-wide. Large amount of energy should be moved across the whole Europe to maximise the efficient use of all primary resources and keeping present standards on reliability and security of supply. All relevant actors, such as policy makers, regulatory authorities, TSOs and utilities, manufacturers, research community and citizens, need to realise there is no time to lose.”