May 26, 2005

Gone with the wind

Letter in the Financial Times (London), May 24:
From Mr Hugh Sharman [Hals, Denmark].

Sir, in your editorial ("Glowing green", May 16) you wrote that "Denmark, which relies on intermittent wind power for nearly 20 per cent of its power, has stability problems on its grid".

Although it is true that the wind power we have creates "stability problems", it is not true that we inhabitants of west Denmark rely on wind power at all.

Whenever west Denmark produces a lot of wind power, it simultaneously exports almost equivalent quantities along its strong inter-connections with Norway, Sweden and Germany.

In other words, in spite of wind turbines producing a quantity of power equivalent to more than 20 per cent of its domestic consumption, very little of this power is actually consumed in west Denmark. I have calculated that in 2003, more than 80 per cent of wind output was exported, leaving west Denmark to consume about 4 per cent of its power from its enormous capacity of wind turbines.

There is an added irony here. The Danish consumer pays the highest tariffs for electricity in Europe. Much of these are hypothecated for the support of windmill owners. However, the wind wind power is sold on the spot market at rates that are much lower.

Thus there is a direct transfer of wealth from Danish consumers to consumers in Sweden, Norway and Germany, every time 1kWh of electricity is sold in this way. During 2003, this net transfer of wealth amounted to more than £100m -- or £40 per inhabitant.
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