Wind energy is already playing an important part in powering the UK and other European nations, but to fully tap into its potential, technological challenges have to be overcome.
Engineering experts at the University of Aberdeen, led by Professor Dragan Jovcic, have developed a novel power device which has the capacity to help large networks of offshore wind farms become a reality.
Their innovation has major implications in helping the UK meet targets under the European Union Renewable Energy Directive of 15% of power generation coming from renewable sources by 2020.
Onshore power grids operate using Alternating Current (AC) but given the massive distances involved in transporting electricity from offshore windfarms to the rest of Europe, a subsea power grid would require Direct Current (DC).
Until now, the technology for DC power only allowed transmission over long distances via subsea cables limited to transmission from one point to another.
The development could be vital to the success of the proposed European DC Supergrid."
This new convertor allows DC power to be used within a power grid topology - meaning that large networks of wind farms could be connected to a common DC interconnector and supply power to one or multiple onshore power points.
The development could be vital to the success of the proposed European DC Supergrid – the high voltage subsea transmission network which could ultimately cover the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Irish Channel, English Channel, the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean, and make wind a continental resource. The Supergrid would also facilitate trading of power between European Union countries even when wind power is low.