Europe is one of the most important load centers in the world. The continent's interconnected power grids are designed principally to allow access for wind power from the Arctic and the North Sea, and the solar energy from Southern Europe and North Africa. Another purpose is to ensure joint operation of hydropower and other power sources generated in Europe, and continent-wide consumption of these power sources.
In 2008, Europe initiated the "European super grid" concept in which a large grid is envisioned for the pan-European region to facilitate continent-wide utilization and consumption of wind power from Northern Europe, solar energy from Southern Europe, and hydropower and other forms of energy generated across the continent. In Europe with a dense population and scarce natural gas resources, calls for denuclearization have been voiced strongly in some countries. To achieve lowcarbon, sustainable development of energy, Europe is likely to further reduce the use of fossil energy and nuclear power while importing more clean electricity, such as wind power from the Arctic and solar energy from the equatorial region by ramping up wind power development in the North Sea and the share of renewables in energy utilization across Europe. Under this scenario, UHV technology will be needed in the future to build a pan-European grid backbone and a robust smart grid to ensure efficient access for and consumption of renewable energy. Power loads in different regions of Europe are comparatively more evenly distributed, with Germany, France, Britain, Italy, and Spain having higher loads. By integrating development and transmission of renewable energy, Europe will see the formation of "three vertical and three horizontal" backbone channels of interconnections. The horizontal channels will include a northern UHV channel for importing wind power from the North Sea, hydropower from Northern Europe and wind power from the Arctic; a central UHV channel connected to the load centers in southern Britain, northern France, Germany, and Poland with capacity for importing renewable power from Central Asia; and a southern UHV channel connected to the solar energy bases in Spain, Italy, and Greece. Among the three vertical channels will be a western UHV channel connected to the wind power bases in Greenland, the Norwegian Sea, and the Barents Sea, the offshore wind power bases in the United Kingdom, the load centers in France and the solar energy bases in Spain and North Africa; a central UHV channel connected to the hydropower bases in Norway, the load centers in Germany, and the solar energy bases in Italy and North Africa; and an eastern channel connected to the wind power bases in the Kara Sea, the load centers in Finland and Poland, and the solar energy bases in Greece and North Africa. In addition, the Europe will be interconnected with Central Asia and North Africa for exchanging electric power at the intercontinental level. Europe's transnational interconnections are illustrated in figure.