Terna plans hypergrid to integrate more renewables

A ‘hypergrid’ network leveraging a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system under Terna’s 2023 development plan will see five new electricity backbones designed to integrate renewable energy capacity, backed by investments totalling €11 billion. 

The project involves modernisation of existing power lines on the mainland’s Tyrrhenian and Adriatic backbones and towards the islands, and the construction of new undersea 500kV connections – a first for the company. 

The hypergrid will see exchange capacity between zones double from the current 16GW while minimising land use and the network’s impact on the landscape.

Under the EU’s ‘Fit-for-55’ package, renewable energy will need to cover at least 65% of Italy’s end consumption in electricity by 2030, with the country aiming for a total of 70GW of additional power, Terna said.

Terna noted that, by the end of January 2023, requests for connection to the high-voltage grid from new renewable power plants reached around 340GW, of which 183.6GW was for onshore and offshore wind power. 

Stefano Donnarumma, chief executive of Terna, said that long-term planning was more important than ever “in today’s particularly challenging context”. He added that enabling the distribution and integration of renewables will be “a determining factor in ensuring Italy’s energy security”.

In addition to the hypergrid project, more grid infrastructure projects are planned to ease congestion, and they are supported by over €1 billion in investments across the plan’s ten-year horizon, Terna said. The company will adopt a modular approach to investment that will allow the development of new grid infrastructure that reflects need.

Planning and authorisation procedures for the new hypergrid projects are to be launched immediately. 

Mediterranean ‘energy hub’

In line with its previous ten-year plans, Terna is also aiming to strengthen and develop cross-border interconnections with a capital expenditure of €2 billion. 

This includes interconnection projects with Tunisia and Greece. These interconnections, together with power lines to France, Switzerland and Austria, will allow Italy to “strengthen its role of energy hub in Europe and the Mediterranean area” according to Terna.

The €21 million budget for the 2023 ten-year plan is 17% more than in its previous plan, but Terna expects actual investments to be significantly more. “Considering the entire lifespan on the projects of the development plan beyond its ten-year horizon, total investments will amount to more than €30 billion,” it said.

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