A View from Europe
Generation, Transmission & Distribution
At the IEEE Power & Energy Magazine Editorial Board meeting held during the 2012 IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) General Meeting in San Diego, Nouredine Hadjsaid of the Grenoble Institute of Technology, France, presented a proposal for an issue devoted to the European perspectives of the electric power system (generation, transmission, and distribution). Nouredine’s presentation was a compelling one, offering IEEE Power & Energy Magazine an opportunity to update our readers on what is ongoing in this massive, multifaceted electric system.
An Update on Europe
Critical drivers of the system are the ambitious 2020 energy targets mandated in 2009. These include emissions reduction, the increase of renewables, and increases in energy efficiencies. The system itself is massive; it serves 500 million people and generates over 3,000 TWh annually. The generation mix is nuclear, hydro, and fossil, with an ever-increasing production from wind and photovoltaics. The transmission grid is approximately 300,000 km of overhead and cable, and the distribution grids consist of 500,000 km of lines and cables (with a considerable amount of renewables connected at distribution levels). In addition, smart grid technology is undergoing demonstration projects throughout the European Union (EU) involving the entire energy chain and will have to be considered as the “new” system evolves.
Nouredine and his associates have assembled five articles that provide a comprehensive overview of the present state of the EU grid from a number of national perspectives and a preview of some of the advances and changes that may be forthcoming. The “Guest Editorial” provides an overview of the magnitudes of the system itself, the problems that are faced, and where the EU system may be going. The feature articles are then introduced to our readers.
Class of 2014 Fellows
The “Awards” column is one that I look forward to each year. It features the names of PES members who have been elected IEEE Fellows, the highest grade in the IEEE and one that is bestowed by the IEEE Board of Directors after a very rigorous vetting process. In any given year, the maximum number of members who may be elected is limited to 0.1% of the IEEE higher-grade membership. I was delighted to find that 25 PES members were elected to the class of 2014, somewhat of a reduction from the previous year and hopefully an impetus to increase the number of nominations that we submit.
The new Fellows and their citations may be found in the “Awards” column. Congratulations to all!
A Look at the Thyristor
Our issue’s “History” column fortuitously offers an evolutionary continuation of the previous two columns where the rotary converter, the original means to convert ac to dc, was the subject. The last of those columns described its demise, and this issue is devoted to the technology that has evolved, namely the thyristor, to efficiently provide the conversion. Deepak Tiku, the column’s author, and Associate Editor Carl Sulzberger have combined their skills to provide an erudite and comprehensive history of the development of thyristor HVdc valves, so instrumental to the field of dc power transmission.
Changes to the European Grid
The issue’s concluding “In My View” opinion column by Nouredine Hadjsaid, Jean-Claude Sabonnadiere, and Sebastien Henry provides an overview of the changes that are ongoing within the European grid to accommodate the dictates mandated by EU policy makers. Initiatives underway are multiterm with long-term perspectives going out to 2050. The column reviews the ongoing rapid development of renewables that require additional high-voltage transmission facilities and the difficulties that attempting to construct them will produce. The distribution area is also challenging due to the rapid changes in the energy paradigm. The conclusion offered is that increased joint action is required that includes R&D development activities from the entire electricity sector.