The Canadian Renewable Energy Association’s (CanREA) 2050 vision is for Canada to have net zero green house gas emission. In order to meet these demands, there needs to be a concerted effort to build alternative energy sources relying on wind, solar and other energy types. CanREA also estimates that under 10% of Canada’s current energy needs are met by wind or solar power.
However, that doesn’t mean these numbers aren’t subject to change. For example, the Canadian government is investing in rebates for homeowners that install green products (such as solar panels). In America, there are several initiatives aimed at increasing green energy production. One initiative is state-mandated renewable portfolio standards that force energy producers to offer a percentage of their energy from renewable sources. This begs the question, what if some countries don’t have access to certain types of energy production? That’s where a worldwide/continent-wide super grid comes into focus.
What is a super grid?
In the simplest sense, a super grid is an extremely large electrical network that connects multiple countries to energy sources. The energy that the grid produces is then shared among the networks. This type of technology takes advantage of the multiple types of climates and energy sources each country has.
Super grid deployment
The main questions that are often asked of green energy is what if there is reduced sunlight during colder months, and what can be done to store energy if there isn’t much wind? The answer appears to be in super grids that span multiple interconnected countries. This allows grids to be deployed in multiple climates that should account for variance in weather patterns. The real vision for the future is a grid that spans the entire globe so that solar power can be produced at all hours – as the sun sets in one location, it rises in another, and energy production never stops. The advantages of a super grid are very clear, all types of energy are produced based on what each country can provide.
Nationalism, Geopolitics, Financing
The super grid benefits are numerous. However, as with any great idea, there remains a few challenges ahead. One, there is a serious cost associated with this type of undertaking. Energy experts estimate a worldwide price tag of 50 trillion dollars USD. Another huge barrier is the political cooperation this would take is rarely, if ever, seen. However, there does remain the distinct possibility that a few countries create a smaller version of their own super grid. There is some precedent in North America as Canada and U.S.A do have shared energy lines.
What does this mean for the electrical industry in Canada?
The most likely scenario for Canada would be this type of grid but on a much smaller scale. For example, the grid would take advantage of the 6 unique time zone’s Canada has, the access to hydro-electric power, and the amount of land that could be used for solar panels. The government of Canada has already shown a willingness to invest in green energy on a small scale with homeowner credits and larger scales with $960 million announced in 2021 for grid modernization. In the future, there will almost certainly be more projects with government funding and a need for green energy solutions will become apparent. Whether or not a super grid project will take off in Canada there is a huge need for more green energy production.