Aberdeen scientists are investigating new technology to support the development of the massive offshore transmission grid planned for the North Sea.
The “supergrid” will allow energy from renewable sources in the North Sea, such as offshore windfarms and marine devices, to be delivered throughout the UK and exported overseas.
Earlier this month, ministers from the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden all signed a deal in support of the project.
It is hoped the supergrid will be operational by 2020.
Dragan Jovcic, a senior lecturer at Aberdeen University’s engineering school, has been awarded European Research Council funding of more than £600,000 to develop design and management software for the grid.
He will lead a three-year research study aimed at resolving the technological challenges of designing equipment such as high-voltage subsea cables, multiple export connections and a series of substations.
Mr Jovcic said undersea power grids differed from onshore systems in the type of electricity current used.
He added: “While onshore power grids operate using alternating current (AC), a subsea grid would use direct current (DC). This is because AC power can only be transmitted through subsea cables over relatively short distances. Future DC networks will require significant technical advances and we will tackle a number of these in this project.”
Mr Jovcic said DC transmission was currently only possible point to point but the new grid would require a much more complex transmission system. “The DC grid should have the same level of reliability as traditional AC grids,” said Mr Jovcic, adding: “We will be studying the isolation of faults on DC grids using new circuit-breaking approaches in order to make sure there is normal grid operation during any major disturbance.”