elctric grids

Wind farm operators told to curb supply this summer to protect ageing grids

Photo credit: Wirsol.
By Anders Lorenzen
On the surface it sounds like good news. Research from Bloomberg finds that solar is set to triumph in Europe this summer, as above normal hot weather is being forecast.

But on the other side of the coin, they say that so much renewable energy has now made its way into the European grid, that the ageing grid will struggle to cope with the extra influx of capacity during low demand. As a result of this it’s estimated that grid operators will tell renewable energy operators, such as wind farms, to not transfer energy into the grid.

During August it’s forecast that Europe will experience hotter weather than usual. Germany’s Energiwende are often being criticised by anti renewable groups for having created the most expensive electricity prices in Europe, but during August new records for solar energy capacity are expected to be set in Germany, driving the price of electricity to record lows in Europe’s largest economy.

At times of low demand, grid operators are likely to be told to curb solar and wind generation to avoid grids overloading. The problem of oversupply is not likely to go away. Energy Brainpool GmbH & Co. KG, a consultancy in Berlin, said that renewable energy output is likely to double in 2020 to 18%.

There is an urgent need to expand grids and upgrade them to cope with the surge of renewables coming into the system which will have to happen at the same speed, with the addition of renewables. If this doesn’t happen it is likely that the curbing of renewables will keep occurring, analysts are saying.

On 2nd June in Germany, Europe’s largest energy market demand fluctuated between 78 gigawatts (GW) and 40 GW during just three hours during the day, this is equivalent to the generating capacity of 25 nuclear power plants.

The European Union’s Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said that some European countries have been too fast in expanding into renewables: “The region needs better infrastructure to integrate the new power’’, he said.

The European Commission says 200 billion euros is needed to upgrade power and gas grids by 2020. And renewable energy campaigners are calling for a Europe-wide modern smart grid that can transfer renewable output to where it is needed, and say this model will ensure that energy waste is minimal.

Solar energy in Europe is set to triple in capacity in 2035 and Europe will rely more and more on the energy source Citigroup says. At the same time it will curb the profit that the large energy utilities make as a large part of solar investments are decentralised, meaning profits go to homeowners and energy co-operatives.

Year on year renewable energy records are made. In April this year output from solar in Germany reached an all time high of 24.2 GW, which eclipsed records being made in previous years, and this summer it is anticipated that new solar records will be made.

Renewable fans will say that this will further evidence that renewables are becoming a stronger market force and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for renewable energy haters to claim they’re not working, but evidence appears to suggest that energy storage and modernising the grid should no longer be a fringe argument.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton

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