3E & partners won Belgian government funding for studying superconducting cable technology

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June 23, 2023

PRESS RELEASE: Together with project partners SuperNode, KULeuven, DEME and Umicore, 3E has won funding for a study assessing the impacts on Belgium’s economy of applying superconducting cable technology to support its transition to energy independence and a decarbonized economy.

Through the STERNA 2050 project, the consortium will compare superconducting cable technology with conventional copper-based transmission technology in terms of impact on Belgian security of supply, energy cost, raw material use, installation procedures and space requirements. It is one of 21 projects receiving funding under Belgium’s Energy Transition Fund (ETF).

Belgium’s minister for energy, Tinne van der Straeten, said:

“We have brain power in our country and the will to develop solutions to the challenges of the future. With the ETF we want to kickstart those solutions. The Belgian federal government supports 21 top projects. These are 21 solutions that will make us less dependent on fossil fuel imports.”

Stef Goossens CEO of 3E, expressed his excitement about the partnership, stating:

“We are honored to collaborate with the STERNA 2050 project, a remarkable initiative that aligns perfectly with our mission to accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future. By leveraging our expertise in renewable energy consulting, data analytics, and modeling, we aim to provide crucial insights into the development of offshore renewable energy infrastructure and contribute to the realization of a robust and efficient grid system.
STERNA 2050 comes at a critical juncture when accelerated deployment of renewable energy is paramount to achieving the ambitious climate targets set by the European Climate Law. Offshore renewables play a pivotal role in Europe’s energy transition, necessitating enhanced power system capability and flexibility through increased interconnection and innovative grid infrastructure.
The project’s core objective is to harness the potential of the North Sea as a Green Power Plant of Europe and develop technological scenarios to bring power flows to Belgium while considering environmental impact, material usage, and lifetime economics.”

John Fitzgerald, CEO of SuperNode said:

“SuperNode is thrilled to work with its leading Belgian partners to assess the role and impacts of using superconducting electricity cables in Belgium’s transition to decarbonisation. Belgium is a global leader in offshore wind and European grid interconnection and recently, with the Ostend Declaration, articulated the goal of building the world’s largest green energy plant in the North Sea together with the prime ministers of nine European nations. With this funding from the Government’s Energy Transition Fund, Belgium has acknowledged the limitations of current grid technology and the need for applying more innovative electricity transmission solutions such as power cables using superconducting materials”.

Dirk Van Hertem, Professor at KU Leuven said:

“KU Leuven/EnergyVille is a proud partner of the STERNA 2050 project. The energy transition will require a massive upgrade of the transmission system: offshore, but also onshore. Today, the power system runs on AC (alternating current), using (copper) cables offshore, and predominantly overhead transmission lines onshore to transmit power from generator to load. The future energy system will look completely different, using direct current transmission, with much higher power ratings and preferably underground while retaining security of supply. This revolution will give opportunities to new technologies and we are happy to contribute to this exciting research project.”

Hugo Bouvy, Managing Director of DEME Offshore said:

“The STERNA 2050 project exemplifies DEME’s commitment to sustainability and innovation shaping the energy landscape of tomorrow.  DEME actively explores groundbreaking solutions in this context, and one such promising avenue is the application of superconducting cable technology with the potential to revolutionize the way we harness and transmit energy. In our pursuit of a greener tomorrow, we are delighted to collaborate with esteemed partners such as SuperNode, KU Leuven, Umicore, and 3E.”

Filip Delalieux, Director of Innovation at Umicore said:

“Of particular interest to Umicore, is the project’s goal to secure critical materials supply for the Belgian power system by investigating non-conventional resources, innovative technologies and ensuring circularity. This resonates with our RISE strategy, to be a true transformation partner, enabling the industry’s journey towards a decarbonized and circular economy.”

For more information about 3E's involvement into the research project STERNA 2050, contact us.

Link to press release: Federal government supports 21 renewable energy and flexibility projects

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