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The European Commission has concluded that the aid granted by France to the Supergrid Institut pour la transition energetique for a research project aimed at developing a new generation of long-distance energy transmission networks complies with the EU rules on State aid.
On the Woodhead route, the trackbed has become a cycle way, the three-mile Woodhead tunnels are used to take Supergrid power lines through to Dunford bridge or were closed as being in poor condition many years ago.
How to integrate large-scale renewable energy into the transmission network is being tackled by Friends of the Supergrid, of which Parsons Brinckerhoff is a founder member, contributing network and strategic planning expertise.
The plan is to use vast arrays of solar panels across the Sahara Desert to harness the rays of the sun, which shines there virtually all year round, to produce steam, to drive the turbines that generate electricity for the region, through an envisioned supergrid that could supply 15-20% of Europe's requirements by 2050, as well as those of the North African states themselves.
High voltage direct current (HVDC) systems are the backbone of plans for smart grids, or supergrids, which aim to channel energy from places where power sources such as sunlight and hydropower are abundant to countries where it is scarce.
Energy experts have warned that these new turbines and energy supplies will need a new supergrid to transport energy from the source to us, the users.
Involving more than 40 countries around the Mediterranean, this initiative calls for the creation of a high-voltage supergrid to pipe solar power from the Sahara to the energy markets of Europe.
The much-maligned and very real intermittency of supplies of renewable power is addressed through additional back-up generation capacity and, crucially, a new direct-current supergrid that enables load balancing across the European continent.