Wind Energy for the Grid?

Information from Germany and Denmark

An interesting article appeared in the Daily Telegraph in mid-August 2006. It's summarised below:

Whilst our government is promoting wind power, a new report (by ABS Energy Research, London) contains some surprising information.

ABS quotes studies from Germany and Denmark, Europe's two leading wind generators, which reveal the poor performance of wind power stations. One of the reasons is that when electricity demand is high (very hot or very cold weather), the wind is least likely to blow.

A report from German energy company E.On quotes an estimate that, although by 2020 Germany plans to have 48 gigawatts of "installed wind capacity", this will equate to only two gigawatts of stable fossil fuel capacity. Germany is also having to build an extra 1700 miles of high voltage transmission lines to connect the turbines to the grid, because most of them are in remote areas.

In Denmark, where wind accounts for a fifth of energy production ... in 2004, only 6 per cent of this could be used because of the mismatch of supply and demand. Eighty-four percent was exported to Norway, which relies largely on hydro-electric power, so that it represented no carbon savings.

Additionally, there is evidence that the switching on and off of fossil fuel power plants, to provide backup for wind turbines results in more carbon emissions than keeping them running, thus cancelling out any carbon savings from wind.

ND comment - see my article
Wind Energy for the National Grid? - the problem of spinning reserve

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