Elia Innovation

Best Paths

The BEST PATHS project helps to overcome the challenges of integrating renewable energies into Europe’s energy mix.

Aim? Develop novel network technologies to increase the pan-European transmission network capacity and electricity system flexibility.

How?

Investigating multi-vendor HVDC: test and validate HVDC convertors in different topologies and with various vendor combinations.

Upgrading existing infrastructure with new technologies:

  • High temperature low sag conductivity lines (HTLS)
  • Isolating cross-arms to use smaller pylons with reduced EMF impact

What is  the project about?

BEST PATHS is a European project that investigates new technologies for the pan-European transmission network. Elia is participating in two demonstrations.

 

What can Elia use and what will be the outcome for society?

The BEST PATHS project is an attempt to identify and overcome potential technical barriers for the roll-out of multi-vendor HVDC grids. This technology is expected to gain momentum, so interoperability will become essential, to avoid vendor lock-in.

Although early adopters of great new technologies, like HTLS, often face barriers to their successful deployment, whenever such innovations emerge it is vital to try and seize them and make their implementation viable.

 

Investigating multi-vendor HVDC systems:

Today, each HVDC system is constructed by a single manufacturer, so there are no compatibility issues between different providers. But when more such systems are integrated and they start comprising more than two connection points, we will find ourselves in a multi-vendor environment, so compatibility issues will arise.

This demonstration entails simulations and laboratory tests to assess and validate combinations of HVDC convertors in different topologies and produced by various manufacturers, so that objective conclusions can be reached for future decisions.

Upgrading existing infrastructure with new technologies:

In the Stevin project, two new technologies are being implemented. High-temperature low-sag (HTLS) conductors are being used to boost the capacity of existing lines and/or corridors. This technology helps us to integrate offshore wind power without increasing the visual impact of our infrastructure.

Meanwhile, cross-arm insulators – the second new technology – can serve as structural elements to decrease pylon size and reduce electromagnetic field (EMF) impact on the environment, whilst operating the line at the highest voltage level (380 kV). This demonstration project will definitely pave the way for the future use of both these new technologies.