Designing generation facilities for the future requires not only adequate preparation against the unforeseen risks posed by climate change, but also the integration of the United Nations’ SDGs. Amongst the innovative solutions along the entire electricity chain of value, from generation to final users, the central role of network infrastructure is firmly bound to the issue of the interconnections necessary to connect the energy demand of consumption centers to the areas producing the greatest quantity of renewable resources.
In the field of generation, the presence of renewables calls for a greater focus on the issue of networks. Currently, interconnection lines are increasingly used for cross-border exchanges of energy driven by market mechanisms. The massive use of energy resources requires the development of interconnection/transfer systems even over thousands of kilometers and the governance of a network with hundreds of nodes. This entails the development of long-distance, high-voltage connections.
In this respect, CESI activities are particularly significant with regards to the PROMOTioN (Progress on Meshed HVDC Offshore Transmission Networks) Plan, introduced by the EU in 2020 to drive the growth of new generation networks. In terms of interconnectivity, which allows massive energy flows between different areas, the last Ten-year Network Development Plan 2020 developed by ENTSO-e calls for a 35GW increase in cross-border capacity by 2025 and a further 93 GW expansion by 2040. Italy is enjoying a massive investment drive for new network infrastructure. In terms of transmission networks alone, the last national ten-year plan envisaged an investment of over €18 billion, nearly threefold the investment planned only five years ago.
Within the PROMOTioN Plan, KEMA Labs (CESI Testing, Inspection and Certification Division) has a role of ‘founding father’, as three HVDC circuit breaker technologies, rated 80 to 350 kV, were tested in our high-power laboratory, and one long-duration high-voltage withstand test of an HVDC GIS (320 kV) was performed in a high-voltage laboratory of KEMA Labs site in Arnhem, The Netherlands.
Such tests, first of their kind in Europe, are crucial to guarantee the increasingly important role of offshore HVDC grids in the EU 2030 and 2050 decarbonization targets.