NEPTUNE project: Green light for ambitious research proposal for European electric superhighway at sea

09-07-2018

The Energy Transition Fund aims at encouraging and supporting research and development in the field of energy. The Council of Ministers has, in the framework of this fund and on the recommendation of the Minister for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development Marghem, approved the NEPTUNE project to investigate the development of the future European electrical grid for offshore wind energy. Such an electrical grid will in the long term be rolled out to a large extent using DC technology. Before constructing this grid, a number of challenges have to be addressed.

The research proposal of the NEPTUNE project therefore focuses on three axes:

  • Planning and rollout of the grid in a cost-efficient and reliable way,
  • Reliable protection to prevent grid outage or component damage due to faults,
  • Control of the converters to achieve stable grid operation.

In this way, the NEPTUNE project is an essential element to prepare Belgium for the further roll-out of offshore wind energy in the coming decades.

The development of renewable energy and in particular wind energy has ensured that cost-effectiveness of this technology has increased, whereas this also leads to increasing sizes of wind parks which are located further away from the existing network. As a result, the transport of this wind energy to the end user takes on an increasingly important role, for which the traditional AC or alternating current technology is no longer suitable. In addition to the new developments, the project also contributes to the development of the necessary knowledge in this sector, which already accounts for 15000 employees in Belgium. The project will be executed under the supervision of Prof. Dirk Van Hertem of EnergyVille/KU Leuven, in collaboration with his colleagues Prof. Jef Beerten and Prof. Erik Delarue.

In addition to Neptune, two other projects that EnergyVille submitted for the Energy Transition Fund were approved: EPOC2030-2050 and BREGILAB.

An executive summary of the project can be found here.