Wind Power in Europe Available 20% of the Year, Study Finds

Wind turbines can generate electricity for an average of 20% over a year, according to the organization that controls power transmission in Europe....

Published: 06-Oct-2004

nature, wind energy is only available as variable power depending on the weather conditions that may range from calm to stormy conditions,” says the Union for the Co-ordination of Transmission of Electricity in its position paper on ‘Integrating wind power in the European power systems.’

For two-thirds of the year, less than 20% of the installed wind power in a control area was available for electricity generation and it was less than 10% for one-third of the year. “This was particularly the case in peak consumption periods (annual peak load in winter) or under aggravated generating conditions (heat wave in the summer 2003),” it explains.

“Wind power is winning recognition as a valuable option for power generation,” it notes. “With a total of more than 20,000 MW of installed wind power capacity, more than the half of the worldwide energy production from wind power is located in Europe.”

“The huge success of this renewable and environmentally-friendly energy source and the respective energy output has to be handled by the Continental European transmission system operators in their day-to-day operation of the European interconnected system,” and UCTE is responsible for maintaining the security of supply and the quality of the energy delivered over in 23 countries from Portugal to Poland and from Belgium to Romania.

UCTE and its member TSOs “share the goal to promote renewable energies and reduce CO2 emissions according to EU and national targets,” and the “challenges arising out of the integration of wind power were successfully mastered in the past and, even in view of the already foreseeable massive increase in wind energy, TSOs will remain focussed on their mission to facilitate wind energy.”

The extension of wind power on the continent requires a thorough redesign of the power infrastructure, both on the generation side (through additional need for balancing power) and on the grid side. The framework must commit to binding wind power extension goals as “indispensable inputs for infrastructural planning and designing activities” and must create combined procedures for windfarms and corresponding grid extension measures. It must also ensure remuneration of costs for the integration of wind into power systems, provide sufficient financial resources for TSO to fund investments in grid extension and additional operational expenses for balancing power, and define grid code requirements to be fulfilled by windfarms to minimize their impact on the grid.

In April 2002, the European Union signed the Kyoto Protocol and agreed to reduce GHG emissions by 8% by 2012 over 1990 levels, and the White Paper on renewables sets the target of 12% from renewables by 2010, with green power increasing to 23.5% by that time. The document sets the specific target for wind at 40,000 MW by 2010.

“In some regions in Europe, generation from wind power already plays a significant role in meeting the electricity demand,” the paper explains. “Nevertheless, great challenges of wind power production are created by the limited predictability and the high fluctuations in production levels as the prime mover of wind turbines.”

“Location of resources, whether in-shore or off-shore, poses additional logistic problems as they are in general located in remote areas far from population centers and transmission network facilities,” it adds. “In the case of off-shore plants, the additional cost of constructing offshore and the longer distance to be covered for connecting to the grid must be considered.”

Forecasting output from a wind turbine “is possible only to a limited extent” and the quality of generating forecast depends significantly on the quality of the weather forecast. “Despite the use of advanced tools, the average forecasting error for wind energy supply could only be reduced to some 10-12% of the installed wind capacity; on certain days, the forecasting deviations may be as high as 50%.”

“New wind power capacities are mainly installed in peripheral regions with below-average power demand,” which will be the case for offshore windfarms. The need to transport electrons over long distances to load centres will result in further congestion of the existing grid, such as Germany where the boom in wind capacity will require grid extensions of 1,400 km of new lines over the next decade,

Currently, Germany has installed 14,325 MW of capacity, but has the potential for 29,000 MW by 2010. Spain, with 5,086 MW, has potential for 13,000 MW while Denmark’s 3,115 MW could grow to 4,000 MW. The Netherlands with 895 MW and Italy with 800 MW have the potential to expand to 1,500 MW and 3,000 MW respectively by 2010.

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