The SuperGrid Institute is one of several energy-transition projects promoted and part funded by the French government. It is a collaborative research institute bringing together public and private organisations to develop new technologies for supergrids.

The SuperGrid Institute’s work will make an important contribution to the transition to low-carbon energy. To dramatically increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix, future transmission grids will have to offer a special combination of capabilities not available today: long-distance transmission (to connect remote renewable energy sources), subsea or underground energy transport, the ability to handle unpredictable fluctuations in renewable energy generation, and more. Meshed HVDC grids are a promising solution to these issues, but they require that a number of technological challenges be overcome. And that is the ambition of the SuperGrid Institute.

Supergrid institute smartgrid grid HVDC Alstom

“Today, the institute is hosted primarily at the Alstom complex at Villeurbanne, France. However, we are in the process of building
our own campus with buildings, equipment and test facilities. In fact, we envisage making our test facilities commercially available to
third parties. The same is true of the intellectual property (IP) we generate.”

“We already have some patents in the pipeline and we shall leverage our IP assets to forge new partnerships and generate licence income.”

Says Philippe Auriol, retired professor of the Ecole Centrale Lyon and former director of a CNRS laboratory

“A key point for universities and students is the proximity of test and measurement facilities on high-power, high-voltage prototypes. Very few university labs have access to this type of equipment – anywhere in the world. These tests and measurements will then constitute the starting point for new basic research projects.
Some PhD research projects are currently under way. For example, a ‘fail-to-short’ project – a packaging technique to ensure that a failed electronic module is seen as a short circuit. Another is focusing on the control of high-voltage power electronics to ensure a high level of insulation.”

Says Hervé Morel, Senior Scientist at Université de Lyon

Jean-François Ballet, Managing Director of the SuperGrid Institute and Vice-President Industry Projects at Alstom Grid, explains:

“We have structured the SuperGrid Institute into five key programmes to achieve our ambitious goals.”

  • Programme 1: Supergrid system architecture, operation and control
  • Programme 2: Technologies for breaking, insulation and measurement
  • Programme 3: Power conversion technologies
  • Programme 4: Supergrid cables and lines
  • Programme 5: Stabilisation and storage