4 questions for Volker Wendt

In January 2021, Europacable, the association of Europe's leading wire and cable manufacturers, joined RGI. Europacable Members produce underground and submarine cables for all voltage levels, making them an incredibly valuable contributor to the decarbonisation efforts of Europe. To find out a little more, we invited Secretary-General, Dr. Volker Wendt, for a brief interview. Here's what he had to say!

1) We are very happy to welcome you as our first Supporting Member! Why have you decided to join RGI?

As Europacable, we have had the pleasure of working with Antonella and her team for several years now and it’s simply become ever more clear that we share the same objective: Europe urgently needs to accelerate the deployment and integration of the most powerful and efficient renewable energy sources wind and solar. Essential is the building of a sustainable, secure and socially acceptable electricity grid – and this is where overhead, submarine and underground cables come into play. To support this objective we decided to apply to become RGI’s first ever Supporting Member – and we’re proud that our application was unilaterally accepted.

2) Which topics do you hope to tackle with RGI in the foreseeable future?

It’s all about planning, permitting and constructing a secure and sustainable power transmission and distribution grid to empower Europe’s renewables-based electrification. We need to crack open silos: We need to think together about renewable power generation centers, offshore and onshore grid upgrading and expansion including understanding what the contributions of flexibility options, digitalisation and other technologies are. Only in this way we can optimise resources and reach the decarbonisation targets. We believe that grids are essential to decarbonise Europe, we therefore need to find the solutions that prevent bottlenecks.

Europe’s cable manufacturers are ready to deliver: We have the technology and the capacity in place to connect Europe. And we want to work with all involved actors to push technical boundaries further: higher transmission capacities, longer length in cabling, greater depth in submarine cabling, new laying technologies etc.

3) What is the role of Europacable in helping to deliver a decarbonised energy system?

It’s very straight forward: Our members develop and produce the cable technologies which are already today used to connect Europe; the connectivity will need to increase while we add variable energy sources in the system. Our products will enable and support European decarbonisation. Currently, over half of all grid expansion plans for the coming decade are expected to be submarine or underground cables, our industry is due to deliver the required products. Cables will be a core technology for Europe´s transmission infrastructure: Some 24.000 km will be overhead lines, 25.000 km are to be connected through submarine cables and some 8.000 km are to be undergrounded. Or as we say in our slogan: “Try life without us!

4) If you could have one superpower that could help bring the energy transition forward, what would it be and why?

I would love to be able to defy the laws of physics! If we could take away the complexity of electrical power generation, transmission and use, nothing would keep us from decarbonising our lives tomorrow. Unfortunately, we can only use technology and our ingenuity to tackle some of the challenges that physics put to us. The only way for us to master them is to come together, join forces and develop needed solutions. And that’s exactly why we are so happy to join RGI!