Tuesday, September 18, 2012

European Governments Taking Wind Problems Seriously

Renewable International has a blog entry today that notes an exchange between "Torsten Albig, Minister-President of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein" and "German Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier"
Albig told German Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier, “we aim to have 300% renewable power by 2020, and ours will be cheaper than wind power in the south,” where there is less wind. Altmaier’s response was interesting: “I believe you can go 300% renewable, but what will you do with the other 200%?” he asked Albig. “I currently have 14 of the 16 German states wanting to be 100% renewable by 2020, so who is going to buy your exports?”
The figures they are referring to must be for capacity.  Germany has a target of 35% of electricity  coming from renewable sources by 2020.  In order to achieve that, they would require far more renewable capacity than the average demand (due to capacity factors for renewables ranging from 10-35%).  Altmaier is aware that even with "300%" renewable power Germany will continue to need controllable traditional generation; the majority of that capacity currently under construction will be fueled by hard coal (BNetzA .xls).

In recent years Germany has had ~40% of generation coming from nuclear and renewables, so it's also noteworthy that the 35% renewable policy, which required bumping the non-greenhouse gas emitting baseload nuclear source, is worse than counter-productive.

In the UK Owen Paterson, the new Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, stated he too recognizes the costs attached to an increased wind energy strategy:
“I am not convinced building wind farms in my area is the right way [forward] because you have more problems. You have to have back up from gas – that is operating inefficiently. “ 
This statement is contentious.

Renewables advocates contend it is untrue - which is bizarre to anybody capable of analyzing data showing the frequent lulls in output.  For the UK this was done by the The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (which cited the extensive work by Pöyry), and which I used to model a similar forecast for Ontario.  The statement is not meaningfully contentious in noting the need for back up.

The statement is contentious in recognizing the back up will be from natural gas.  Germany is building hard coal fueled facilities at 3 times the rate of natural gas facilities.  The assumption has been that very short-term flexibility is paramount in complimenting intermittent renewables, but as/if forecasts improve to provide better predictions of wind/solar output, the key attribute of complimentary sources will probably be peaking depth, and coal provides that to a far greater extent than the CCGT plant usually matched to wind production by those touting emissions reduction.

If forecasts improve

In Fance, the planned growth of wind is being fought by the group responsible for weather forecasting!
French Military, Weather Radars Are Wind Farm ‘Hurdles’
Concerns in the military that turbines interfere with radar and at state forecaster Meteo France that they hinder wind and flood forecasts have blocked an estimated 3,000 megawatts of projects across the country, according to Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables, representing renewable energy companies...
“We have a public safety mission that is at times in conflict with wind farm development,” he said. “It’s a fact that turbines can interfere with radar measurements and this creates issues in many countries.” 
The entire article can be read at Bloomberg

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