BODY OF ARTICLE
Which electricity infrastructure for Europe in 2050? What are the key findings of the e-Highway2050 project?
Background and assumptions
The European Commission, together with the member states, has defined clear targets for the decarbonisation of the European economy from 2020 up to 2050.
These low carbon trends for the European economy have a direct impact on the design and upgrade of all the European energy infrastructures, and especially on the electricity transmission network due to its critical role for the pan-European power system.
An overview of the e-Highway2050 results
The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) addresses the developments of the pan-European electricity transmission network until 2030 in the Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP). Starting with the same network configuration for 2030, the e-Highway2050 research and innovation project goes until 2050: it deals with the transition paths for the whole power system, with a focus on the transmission network, to support the European Union in reaching the low carbon economy envisioned by 2050.
Novel top down network planning methodologies have therefore been developed to address such long-term horizons and cover all the continent. They have been used extensively to identify key network developments for Europe. The five very contrasted energy scenarios provide an envelope of the possible future evolutions of the European power system while meeting the 2050 low carbon economy orientation.
The methodology relies on extensive numerical simulations of a model of the pan-European transmission network (made of approximately 100 regional and interconnected clusters): these simulations support an estimation of the benefits of grid expansion, thanks to a modelling of both generation and grid constraints. The robustness is guaranteed by a Monte-Carlo approach covering probabilistically various climatic years.
The simulations show that the 2030 network is not sufficient to face the 2050 energy scenarios. Indeed, during significant periods, grid congestions would prevent some available generation to reach the load. Especially, huge volumes of renewable energy sources (RES) would be curtailed and compensated by expensive thermal generation emitting CO2.
To tackle these issues, different architectures of the transmission grid have been developed and compared to assess their techno-economic efficiency.
The results of the studies exhibit the following trends:
- An invariant set of transmission requirements has been found: major “North – South” corridors appear in all scenarios with several reinforcements that connect the North of the pan-European electricity system (North Sea, Scandinavia, UK, Ireland), and southern countries (Spain and Italy), to the central continental area (northern Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium and France);
- The network extension rate is driven by the increase of generation capacities, especially renewable energy sources
- The proposed architectures could be integrated in the present grid, without introducing a separated ‘layer’ of transmission grid.
The costs of investment in grid expansion depend on the scenarios. They lie between 100 and 400 billion €. However, the study demonstrates that the benefit for the European economy, resulting from an optimal use of energy sources, would largely exceed these costs in all cases. Indeed, up to 500 TWh of RES curtailment and 200 mega tons of CO2 emissions would be avoided annually.
To successfully realize and operate those future transmission grids, key challenges have to be overcome. The project has highlighted some of them in the fields of technology, operation and governance. They are presented in a synthetic manner in a dedicated booklet and in a more detailed way in the public deliverables listed in the references below.
This knowledge article is also connected to the set of knowledge articles dealing with specific knowledge created by e-Highway2050.
 D 1.1 Review of useful studies, policies and codes
 D 1.2 Structuring of uncertainties, options and boundary conditions for the implementation of EHS
 D 2.1 Data sets of scenarios developed for 2050
 D 2.2 European cluster model of the pan-European transmission grid
 D 2.3 System simulations analysis and overlay-grid development
 D 2.4 Contingency analyses of grid architectures and corrective measurements
 D 3.1 Technology assessment from 2030 to 2050
 D 3.2 Technology innovation needs
 D 4.1 Operational validation of the grid reinforcements by 2050
 D 4.2 Environmental validation of the grid reinforcements for 2050
 D 4.3 Data sets of scenarios and intermediate grid architectures for 2040
 D 4.4 Modular development plan
 D 5.1 Roadmap for implementing the target governance model and an initial policy proposal
 D 6.1 A comprehensive cost benefit approach for analysing pan-European transmission highways deployment
 D 6.2 A toolbox supporting a pan-European technical evaluation of costs and benefits
 D 6.3 Modular plan over 2020 – 2050 for the European transmission system
 D 8.1 High-level definition of a new methodology for long-term grid planning
 D 8.2 Enhanced methodology for demand/generation scenarios
 D 8.3 Enhanced methodology to define optimal grid architectures for 2050
 D 8.4 Enhanced methodology to define the optimal modular plan to reach 2050 grid architectures
 D 8.5 Enhanced methodology to assess the robustness of a grid architecture
 D 8.6 Detailed enhanced methodology for long-term grid planning
 D 8.7 Recommendations about critical aspects in long-term planning methodologies
 B. H. Bakken, M. Paun, R. Pestana, G. Sanchis, “e-Highway2050: A Modular Development Plan on Pan- European Electricity Highways System for 2050”, Cigre Lisbon, April 2013
 G. Sanchis, RTE et alia, “A methodology for the development of the pan-European Electricity Highways System for 2050”, CIGRE Paris, August 2014
 T. Anderski, Amprion; F. Careri, RSE; N. Grisey, RTE; G.Migliavacca, RSE; D. Orlic, EKC; G. Sanchis, RTE. e-Highway2050: a research project analysing very long term investment needs for the pan-European transmission system. Cigre Paris. Submitted to Cigre Paris, August 2015
 T. Anderski Amprion; N. Grisey, G. Sanchis, RTE; M. Gronau, K. Strunz, TU Berlin; G. Migliavacca, F. Careri, RSE;E. Peirano, A. Vafeas, Technofi; R. Pestana, REN. e-Highway2050: Planning the European Transmission Grid for 2050. IEEE Energycon conference. KU Leuven, Leuven (Belgium). 4-8 April 2016
 ENTSO-E, “Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP)”, www.entsoe.eu/major-projects/ten-year-network-development-plan/, 2014
Gerald Sanchis, Nathalie Grisey, RTE
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