Interesting article in the Guardian showing a map of Europe divided up by potential for renewable energy generation rather than by nation. For example, the UK and Ireland are called the tidal states due to their huge potential for tidal power and Spain, Italy, Greece are part of Solaria due to their potential for solar power generation.

I believe strongly that a Pan-European renewable energy grid is the way forward. Most renewable energy technology by it’s very nature cannot be relied upon to provide base-load power generation because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow in every country. But it is safe to say that when the sun isn’t shining in Spain, it’s quite likely that it is shining in Greece or Germany and when the wind isn’t blowing in Denmark it probably is in Scotland. Thus if we have the ability to send renewable energy efficiently from where it is available to where it is needed and if we use a combination of all different forms of generation it is feasible to entirely rely on renewables.

A Pan-European grid would also help to remove much of the opposition to renewable energy that exists today. Sceptics and opponents wouldn’t be able to downplay the effectiveness of a proposed wind-farm by saying “and what happens when the wind isn’t blowing?”. The answer would simply be that another region of the grid being fed by wave power or solar power or hydro-power would pick up the slack and life can continue uninterrupted.

The other benefit I see in such a scenario is it will allow regions to really focus on the technology that is best suited to them instead of being distracted by trying to cover all bases. If Spain knew that it could rely on hydro-power from Norway when the sun isn’t shining then they would be free to pour all of their development money into maximising solar generation without having to worry about also giving themselves a backup. In contrast the UK could forget solar generation which is marginal at best in their climate and focus on tidal and wind generation. Each region could become an expert and world leader in their own field. Arguably some regions have already achieved this e.g. Denmark with wind-power and Norway with hydro-power.

Without such cooperation and sharing I agree with the sceptics that renewable energy generation will never be able to cover the base-load requirements of Europe.

Here is a link to the article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2010/may/07/architecture-rem-koolhaas


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