Follow us at  twitter

Large-Scale Integration of Wind Energy

The two-day conference ’Large Scale Integration of Wind Energy’, organised by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and supported by the European Commission and the European Transmission System Operators (TSOs), took place on 7 and 8 November 2006 in Brussels. This conference focused primarily on the policy, regulatory and business issues related to large-scale integration of wind power generation in Europe, and to the development of an interconnected grid for Europe. A total of 37 speakers from 13 countries gave their views at the conference, and over 250 delegates from more than 20 countries attended. Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK, Denmark, Spain and Poland were particularly well represented, with more than ten delegates each. However, two European countries (Portugal and Norway) sent only one representative; for Norway with its very long coastline, and with such huge offshore wind potential, this is astonishing. Are they aware of what is going on?

By Hans Hof, Contributing Editor, Windtech International

.
{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}The session ‘Transnational offshore grids' dealt with the synergies between the grid expansion that will be necessary for offshore wind power and the broader needs of the European transmission network for cross-border power exchange. The concept and opportunities of a European offshore supergrid were presented in the Airtricity Supergrid project: a challenging way to integrate more wind power into the European grid by connecting wind power between Finland, the Baltic States, Sweden, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Spain. It will revolutionise the face of Europe's energy structure with its plans to create a pan-European subsea energy grid which will link a series of offshore wind farms across European waters. The European Commission's policy framework for improvement of interconnection infrastructure was discussed, and basic elements of a European offshore wind power strategy were presented. Finally, regulatory aspects of offshore grids were highlighted.

The session 'Towards a European power system with substantial amounts of wind energy' focused on recommendations to remove ineffective institutional barriers. Regulators should be made to follow political targets more closely. The importance of sustainability, fighting climate change, contributing to the security of supply and the need for storage facilities for wind power were all stressed. The best way of integrating wind power was felt to be via market-based mechanisms using grid certificates, but the guarantee of origin must be better defined.

In the session 'Integrating wind power into a single European electricity grid' the current status and prospects for wind power technology were presented in order to describe the opportunities from a market and resources perspective and, in turn, this was related to the European renewable policy framework. The ambition to create a single European grid is written into the European Council's Priority Interconnection Plan. Research and development efforts and, more specifically, system integration studies, are needed to address the problems of large-scale wind power integration. The harmonisation of grid codes across Europe is an important requirement, as are upgrades in the transmission system and adaptations to? the power market to enable large-scale integration.

The results of the Dena grid study were presented: 2,000km of extra transmission lines will be needed by 2020. A European approach is vital because electrons don't recognise political borders. The study found that more wind power made the energy market more volatile. Wind power did give a price reduction effect of 12-14% on the spot market prices in 2005 in Denmark, but the market is still immature and the way the market functions can still be improved. The idea of using hot water created by district heating networks to store the surplus energy of wind power at low electricity demand periods was presented. Also, the importance of the need to shorten the 12-36-hour forecast periods to 2 to5 hours, with a maximum of a 6-hour period, was explained.

In the session 'Infrastructure investments and financing' it was outlined that significant investments are needed in the transmission networks to improve the functioning of the European internal electricity market. Electricity networks of the future have to be reshaped to be adapted for new technical, economic, environmental and political realities. The session highlighted and discussed needs and strategies for investments in transmission and distribution grids, including private and public fund-raising.

The session 'System studies and best practices' presented the actual and projected developments in wind power integration, both for leading (Germany, Spain, the Netherlands) and upcoming markets (Italy, France, Belgium), based on examples of selected countries. The preliminary results of the EWIS project (a European Wind Integration Study, undertaken by the European TSOs) was also presented.

Conclusions
Wind energy actually meets about 3% of European gross electricity demand, but is capable of delivering 12% by 2020 and 25% by 2030, even with a predicted 50% increase in electricity consumption. The world wind power capacity grew from 100MW in 1980, to 2,000MW in 1990, to 47,300MW in 2004, and reached more than 50,000MW by the end of 2006. It could reach 300,000MW by the year 2030, but this will require a considerable expansion of electricity grids.

Europe is facing an energy crisis. However, large-scale integration of wind energy can serve as a leading solution by helping to secure energy supply, creating energy independency, meeting rising demand and contributing to the fight against climate change. The conference contributed to the debate on how to integrate significant amounts of wind energy into the European power infrastructure effectively. A large contribution from wind energy to European power generation is technically and economically feasible. More wind energy is also essential to steer Europe towards an indigenous, clean, secure and affordable energy future. The ways to overcome the barriers to wind power integration are mainly of regulatory and institutional origin. Market modifications should be dealt with in a broader energy market context. The real challenge is to create a de-carbonised and efficient European energy system. Unfortunately nothing was presented about the possibility of the wide scale introduction of small wind turbine units that could be installed on the top of new and existing buildings in cities and towns. Maybe this is something for a special conference.

I hope to see you at either of the next two EWEC conferences, in Milan from 7 to 10 May 2007 or in Brussels from 31 March to 3 April 2008.

The proceedings of the conference can be read and/or downloaded from the website of the European Wind Energy Association: www.ewea.org.{/access}
Joomla SEF URLs by Artio

Related Articles