Can our electricity grid cope with all the new wind power?
27th April, 2010
Wind energy finally seems to be moving somewhere in the UK, but without some new techniques, our grid is simply not going to cope with this flood of new green power
Earlier this year the Government awarded licences to build 32GW of offshore wind capacity, enough to provide a quarter of our yearly electricity, more than any other country has yet achieved, by 2020. Some analysts claim it can’t be done, and the very attempt will threaten our security of supply. But luckily several European countries are way ahead of us and pioneering a range of approaches could eventually lead to a totally renewable electricity supply.
One of the most ambitious is Spain, where wind capacity has soared in recent years under a system of generous feed-in tariffs. Capacity stands at 19GW today, generating around 14 per cent of the country’s electricity in 2009, and once – on a windy Sunday night last November – briefly delivering 54 per cent of its power. Yet the Spanish government wants to go much further and has set a target of 29GW by 2016.
For a country so determined to grow its wind capacity, it is ironic that Spain has discovered one of the most important factors is the ability to shut wind farms down, or at least reduce their output from time to time. To achieve this, the Spanish grid operator REE (Red Eléctrica de España) has built...
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