Published: 14 August 2018 14 August 2018
The same meteorological conditions behind the current heatwave in Western Europe have contributed to a wind drought, negatively impacting wind energy project performance in markets including the UK, France, Spain, Germany and much of Scandinavia. Simultaneously, solar plant performance in many of these markets has increased, in a striking illustration of the balancing effect that can be achieved by building out both technologies as part of a diversified, ‘climate-resilient’ portfolio.
This is according to wind and solar performance maps of Europe by Vaisala, a global leader in environmental and industrial measurement. The maps show that wind farm operators saw the available resource in July dip by as much as 20% from long-term averages, while solar irradiance in many of the same markets was up to 20% above average.
For wind energy asset owners and operators in the UK, France, Spain and parts of Germany, July’s substantially below par wind speeds followed on from similarly low winds in May and June. In Scotland, meanwhile, wind speeds have been uniformly down for the whole seven months of 2018. This trend is likely to have a long-term impact on the financial performance of Scottish wind farms, and has already been noted in the financial results of major utilities. The high-pressure system over Europe which has caused these anomalous conditions is expected to persist until October.
Stakeholders in the European renewable energy sector should be encouraged by the July 2018 solar irradiance data, showing a negative correlation between deviations in wind speeds and deviations in solar irradiance – i.e. when wind was below average, sunshine was above average. Vaisala has also determined that correlation pattern holds over the long-term across most of Europe but it varies from region to region as one looks globally.