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Europe plans massive green power grid

BERLIN, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Nine European countries, including Germany, Britain and France, are planning to build a massive trans-border power grid to better integrate electricity from renewables.

In what would be the biggest grid project in the continent's history, the countries aim to raise more than $43 billion to build a high-voltage grid under the North Sea to link Northern Europe's renewable energy generators, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports.

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Apart from Europe's largest economy Germany, Britain, France, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway are involved, the Munich-based daily said in its Tuesday edition.

The grid would connect British and German offshore wind farms with hydro storage facilities in Norway, wave power facilities near the Belgium and Danish coastlines, and large wind and solar power farms in mainland Europe.

The paper says first meetings between representatives from the partner countries took place last month in Ireland. The grid is planned to go into operation in 2020.

It would be the first multinational grid specifically tailored to accommodate the fluctuating green power generation -- the main hurdle to boosting the share of renewables.

Wind and solar power are generated in favorable weather conditions only and put heavy strains on the traditional grids.

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As per the new model, power produced from the wind farms at night, for example, could be stored in Norway's hydropower facilities to be released the following day.

Similar balancing schemes would secure a stable energy supply despite a steadily growing share of renewable suppliers.

The EU has pledged to boost the share of renewables to 20 percent of the overall energy mix to combat climate change. Europe's utilities and governments are planning and building around 100 GW of wind power over the next years -- the equivalent of roughly 100 coal-fired power plants. The current grid simply couldn't cope with such an amount of green power, and much of it would be lost. Experts and renewable energy industry officials have in the past years repeatedly called for a new power grid.

Representatives from the partner countries will meet again early next month, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung said. They plan to involve Europe's leading utilities, which are poised to share part of the huge price tag estimated to reach more than $43 billion.

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