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Can Japan achieve international power transmission with the Asian continent (2)

Enlightenment of European International Grid to Asian International Grid
In "International Transmission Grids and Northeast Asian Power Market", we introduced the basic situation of international transmission grids and East Asian international power market. Although the construction of international transmission grids in Asia is still in its infancy, Europe has a long history and rich experience in international transmission. In this article, let’s take a look at Europe’s international power transmission and see if European experience can be used as a reference for Asia’s construction of international transmission grids.
European international power grid with a long history
You may not expect that the international transmission grid in Europe has a history of more than 100 years. In 1915, an international transmission line between Denmark and Sweden was completed, opening the prelude to European international transmission. In 1920, the transmission line connecting France, Switzerland and Italy began to operate. From 1950 to 1960, international transmission lines connected Germany and Portugal. By 1980, the submarine cable also integrated the UK into the European power grid.
With the expansion of the European international transmission grid, its power transmission is also increasing. In 2017, the electricity transmission in Europe reached 450 billion kWh. Especially after 1990, European countries led by the United Kingdom began to "separate power transmission and power generation (that is, to separate the power generation and power retail industry from the transmission industry)", and wide-area power transactions across European borders began to become active.
In addition, the increase of natural energy power, mainly wind power generation, across Europe has also expanded the scale of international power transmission. For example, Denmark, which has advantages in wind power, will flexibly use the international transmission grid according to the influence of climate on the output power of power generation. At present, Denmark has exported more than 30% of its own electricity generation to other European countries, and the input rate has reached more than 40%. It accounts for 10% of European electricity output and input.

Judging from the actual electricity consumption trends in Europe, the transnational electricity input and output of various countries are very active. The European international transmission grid is divided into four major networks according to the region, namely the "Continental European System", "Nordic System", "British System" and "Baltic System". Each network adopts DC transmission at different time periods, so that two distant countries can also realize power trading from a wide area.


HVDC reduces transmission costs
As mentioned above, European networks mainly adopt high-voltage direct current transmission. Specifically, this is a long-distance power transmission technology using high-voltage direct current (HVDC). Generally speaking, in order to facilitate voltage transformation, the transmission grid will generally transmit alternating current, but compared with direct current, the transmission of alternating current has a larger loss. For long-distance and wide-area transmission such as the European International Power Grid, the backbone of the power grid adopts a high-voltage direct current transmission method with less loss.
In addition, submarine cable technology is also constantly improving. A large-scale plan to lay cables on the seabed to use HVDC to transmit electricity is being promoted in Europe. One of the more representative ones is the "NorNed" international transmission line connecting Norway and the Netherlands in 2008. This international transmission line is 583 kilometers long and is currently the world's longest submarine transmission cable. The "NorNed" transmission line can transmit 700MW of electricity with a ±450KV high-voltage direct current method. The total construction cost is 600 million euros (approximately 4.6 billion yuan).
Although the situation of the seabed between Norway and the Netherlands is different from that of the seabed of Japan, with technological innovation, the cost has been reduced. Therefore, the HVDC method has great reference significance for Japan's power transmission to the Asian continent.
In Europe, while the construction cost of international power grids is declining, with the increase of natural energy sources centered on solar power and wind power in various countries, the advantages of power import and export have become greater and greater. Especially for countries near the sea, HVDC connection to the international power grid has various conveniences and advantages.
Natural energy power from Northern Europe to the UK
The United Kingdom, which is also an island country with Japan, has a high rate of thermal power generation. And like Japan, there is a problem that the retail price of electricity is higher than that of mainland countries. These conditions and problems in the UK have been greatly improved and resolved after being connected to the international power grid.

In 2011, the international transmission line "BritNed" between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands began to operate. Since the beginning of operation, the transmission power of this transmission line has increased year by year. By 2015, the transmission power of "BritNed" has increased to 8 billion kWh a year. Because of the difference in electricity prices between Britain and the Netherlands, "BritNed" has a profit of nearly 200 million euros, and its 600 million construction cost can be recovered in about three years.

In addition to "BritNed", the UK also imports hydro and wind power from Northern Europe through international transmission lines. Compared with the retail price of electricity in European countries, the European transmission line "Nord Pool", which has a higher proportion of natural energy power generation, has the lowest price, which is less than half of the UK electricity price in 2015. The UK’s access to the “Nord Pool” is conducive to the reduction of retail electricity prices in the UK and the UK’s transition from thermal power to natural energy power.
Can Ireland’s International Transmission of Electricity Provide Experience for Hokkaido?
In 2013, the international transmission line "East West Interconnector" between the UK and Ireland started operating. Ireland has a great advantage in wind power generation. In 2017, more than 80% of the country's electricity was provided by wind energy. Not only that, Ireland’s wind power is being transmitted to the United Kingdom through international transmission lines, and it has successfully adjusted the country’s power supply and demand.

The area of Ireland is similar to that of Hokkaido, Japan. Although Hokkaido also plans to expand the scale of power generation with natural energy such as solar and wind power, in order to maintain a balance between supply and demand, the amount of natural energy power generation has always been limited. In addition to strengthening the plan to supplement the construction of transmission lines in the northeastern region of the country, if Hokkaido can establish international transmission lines with other Asian countries like Ireland, the introduction of natural energy power generation is likely to increase significantly.
In addition, international transmission lines have great advantages over countries that rely heavily on nuclear power generation. In Europe, France transmits electricity to the United Kingdom through international transmission lines, and the spot price on the French electricity retail market, which has a high proportion of nuclear power generation, is very low. However, the power supply capacity of a single nuclear power plant is very large. Even if a nuclear power plant stops operating, it will cause the price of electricity to rise.
On November 8, 2016, the spot price of French electricity soared due to the decrease in the supply of nuclear power in France. Therefore, importing cheap electricity from neighboring countries through international transmission lines will help curb the cost of electricity in the country. Part of the reserve power source in France is also realized by transferring from abroad.
Concluding remarks
This article introduces the history and current status of European international transmission lines, as well as the role played by European international transmission grids in expanding natural energy utilization, stabilizing power supply, and controlling power costs. The international transmission grids in Europe and the international transmission of some European countries are also of great reference for Japan. But if Japan wants to learn from European experience, it must first rectify its own system. Next time we will analyze, in order to realize the international power transmission between Japan and the Asian continent, Japan needs to make changes.
News source: PV JAPAN BRIDGE

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