September 26, 2004

More wind power means more fossil fuel burning and more high-voltage power lines

For technical reasons, the intensive use of wind power in Germany is associated with significant operational challenges:
  • Only limited wind power is available. In order to cover electricity demands, traditional power station capacities must be maintained as so-called "shadow power stations" at a total level of more than 80% of the installed wind energy capacity, so that the electricity consumption is also covered during economically difficult periods.
  • Only limited forecasting is possible for wind power infeed. If the wind power forecast differs from the actual infeed, the transmission system operator must cover the difference by utilising reserve capacity. This requires reserve capacities amounting to 50-60% of the installed wind power capacity.
  • Wind power requires a corresponding grid infrastructure. The windy coastal regions of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony are precisely the places where the grids have now reached their capacity limits through wind power. At present, just under 300 km of new high-voltage and extra-high voltage lines are being planned there in order to create the transmission capacities required for transporting the wind power.
-- Eon Netz Wind Report 2004 (Eon Netz manages the transmission grid in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony, about a third of Germany, hosting 6,250 MW of Germany's 14,250 MW installed wind-generating capacity at the end of 2003. The total production in Eon's system was 8.5 TW-h, representing an average feed of 969 MW (15.5% of capacity). Germany's wind production as a whole was 14.8% of capacity and equal to less than 4% of demand. Click the title of this post for more of the report.)