Conclusions I The super NOVA principle: a practical guide to an efficient electricity grid

On the 13th of December 2022 currENT hosted an event to discuss ‘The super NOVA principle: a practical guide to an efficient electricity grid

During this webinar currENT, the voice of innovative grid technologies in Europe presented the NOVA principle (optimisation ahead of reinforcement, ahead of expansion), and demonstrated how innovative grid technologies can help successfully optimise and reinforce the electricity grid.

Leading representatives from Ampacimon, CTC Global, Smart Wires and Fluence presented use cases from their diverse range of innovative grid technologies. Afterward, ENTSO-E reflected on how the NOVA principle fits into the TYNDP process.

Below you can find the presentations, the recording, and a recap of the discussion. 


Layla Sawyer, Secretary General of currENT, introduced the webinar by reflecting on the challenges Europe is facing in the upcoming winters, by looking at the conclusions of ENTSO-E’s recent Winter Outlook for 2022/2023, and the remaining demand-supply gap identified by the IEA for the winter of 2023/2024. As renewables are part of measures to address these gaps, it is crucial to ensure sufficient grid capacity to allow renewable electricity to displace gas consumption. This is why the NOVA principle, which encourages grid optimisation ahead of reinforcement and ahead of expansion, is so important.

Frederic Vassort, CEO of Ampacimon, spoke about how Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) can optimise the electricity grid by taking advantage of the fact that lines are cooled down by weather, which increases their capacity. Around 90% of the time, an extra 10-20% capacity is available, while in some cases it can double the amount of available capacity. In the presented use case on a cross-border 380kV line in Belgium (which runs from the Netherlands to France), it was shown that DLR improved the interconnections between neighbouring countries and allowed them to connect the wind power in the North Sea without needing to do grid reinforcement in the next few years. This saved €500,000 of international redispatch costs in a single day.

Peter Hughes, the European Vice President of CTC Global spoke about the benefits of grid reinforcement through Advanced Conductors, which can offer 1) a significant increase in capacity, 2) a low sag profile when exposed to heat, 3) a low lifetime cost for reinforcement projects, 4) easier permitting, 5) futureproofing and 6) Increased efficiency of around 25-40%, which saves millions of euros in wasted generation. In the presented use case, he showed how Elia used this on the MMVE (Massenhoven-Meerhout-Van Eyck) 380kV line.

Hedd Roberts, the European General Manager at Smart Wires presented the SmartValve, a Modular Static Synchronous Series Compensator (M-SSSC), which injects a controllable voltage (leading or lagging) into a circuit, through either manual or automated controls, thus controlling the dynamic power flow. The UK is trying to solve a lack of transmission capacity, caused by increased power flows from renewable generation in Scotland going to England. These power flows are restricted by several transmission system boundaries both between Scotland and England and in Northern England (B6, B7 and B7A). The UK is planning major reinforcements to increase the capacity in these boundaries, by using offshore HVDC link, but they take a long time to implement. The Smart Wires’ solution, in stage one was to deploy 48 SmartValves to three substations in Northern England and connected into five circuits, which increased the boundary capacity in B6 by +500MW, in B7 by +900MW and in B7a, by +500MW, which saved £387m for GB consumers.

Lars Stephan, Policy and Market Development Manager at Fluence presented the ‘Grid Booster’, energy storage assets used as transmission assets, which is a new type of technology class to increase the utilisation of transmission lines and provide advanced service operation capability to TSOs. The benefit of ‘Grid Boosters’ is that they reduce the need for conventional reinforcement, and operating costs and avoid derating of lines. Lars Stephan used the German use case, where the country is struggling with bottlenecks in moving wind energy generated in the North to load centres in the South.

Patricia Labra, Head of network planning at Red Electrica and convener of the TYNDP at ENTSO-E, concluded the webinar by analysing how all the elements mentioned by previous speakers fit together in the TYND process. She started by presenting three main findings that came out of the 2022 TYNDP system needs study: 1) opportunities for improving the power system exist all over Europe, 2) addressing system needs reduces Europe’s dependence on gas-based power generation, 3) and coordinated planning will be needed across sectors. When looking at 2040 needs, opportunities for increased cross-border transmission, storage and peaking capacity exist all over Europe. To solve these needs, we will need to explore all possible solutions, including non-wire alternatives. ENTSO-E is calling for a clear regulatory framework that accelerates the deployment of innovative solutions.