Supergrids

With total demand for electricity growing on a global basis and concerns over climate change mounting, significant attention is focused on how best to meet electricity needs while reducing the environmental and economic costs of power production and delivery. Much of the conversation centers on decentralized solutions, but a powerful case also exists for transforming the electric power sector in the opposite direction: through a carefully planned network of high-voltage transmission systems spanning countries, continents, and eventually the globe and enabling the integration of renewable power on a bulk scale.

Such large-scale, coordinated supergrids would allow high-volume electricity trade across long distances and facilitate development of renewables where the resource potential is strongest, rather than where it is most convenient. Yet, supergrid development is complicated by the need for strong political support, regulatory coordination, and capital mobilization, affecting the pace of development and market growth. According to Navigant Research, global supergrid investments are expected to increase from $8.3 billion in 2016 to $10.2 billion by the end of 2025.

This Navigant Research report analyzes the market for supergrids, assessing key drivers and barriers to supergrid development and forecasting the size of the supergrid market through 2025. The study evaluates the trajectory of supergrid development by region and highlights examples of supergrid proposals at different geographic scales. Examples of supergrid initiatives covered in this report range from transmission corridors to carry renewable power to distant load centers within the same country to calls for a global supergrid linking wind power in the Arctic and solar power at the equator to end users around the world.

Key Questions Addressed:
  • What are supergrids?
  • What are the benefits and drivers of supergrid projects?
  • What are the barriers and risks of supergrids?
  • How large is the market for supergrids?
  • How does the market for supergrids vary by region?
  • Where are opportunities for supergrid projects concentrated?
Who needs this report?
  • High-voltage transmission system technology vendors
  • Transmission system developers
  • Transmission planning organizations
  • Utilities
  • Government agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Investor community

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

2. Overview   

2.1  What Is the Supergrid?

2.1.1     Geographic Scope

2.1.2     Technological Scope

2.2  Market Drivers

2.2.1     Integrate Renewable Power

2.2.2     Improve Operational Efficiency

2.2.3     Reduce Costs

2.3  Market Barriers

2.3.1     Regulatory Barriers

2.3.2     Political Barriers

2.3.3     Financial Barriers

3. Regional Supergrid Initiatives

3.1  Global

3.2  North America

3.2.1     Plains & Eastern Clean Line

3.2.2     Atlantic Wind Connection

3.2.3     TransWest Express

3.3  Europe

3.3.1     NordLink

3.3.2     North Sea Link

3.3.3     Trans-Mediterranean Interconnection

3.4  Asia Pacific

3.4.1     China

3.4.2     ASEAN Power Grid

3.4.3     Gobitec/Asian Supergrid

4. Market Forecasts

4.1  North America

4.2  Europe

4.3  Asia Pacific

4.4  Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa

5. Conclusion

List of Charts and Figures

  • Supergrid Investment by Region, World Markets: 2016-2025
  • Rendering of a US Supergrid Using Underground HVDC Transmission Lines
  • Illustration of a European Supergrid

List of Tables

  • GHG and Renewable Energy Targets for Select Countries
  • GEI Implementation Targets: 2020-2050

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