It’s a Mill. It’s a Dam. It’s Supergrid!


The countries of northern Europe have agreed to build a huge network of renewables that will connect offshore wind farms in northern Scotland to solar panels in Germany to wave power and hydroelectricity in Scandinavia.

Offshore wind projects in Europe are expected to generate more than 100 gigawatts of energy, about ten percent of the continent’s demands, in coming years, roughly equivalent to a hundred large coal plants. But unpredictable weather patterns can hamper their ability to deliver reliable energy, and national power grids are too weak to overcome fluctuations in production and demand.

Nine nations, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and the UK, have joined forces to lay undersea cables beneath the North Sea in the coming decade. The grid will act as a gigantic battery, storing electricity when demand is reduced.

The North Sea grid could connect to a much larger renewable plan that was launched in Germany last year. The Desertec Industrial Initiative is a $400 billion scheme that aims to deliver 15 percent of Europe’s electricity by 2050 from southern Europe and North Africa. Concentrated solar power will be delivered by power lines that stretch across the Sahara and the Mediterranean. Scientists in the European Commission estimate that just 0.3 percent of the light falling on the deserts of the Sahara and Middle East would be enough to meet all of Europe’s energy needs.