Wind power should flow smoothly through a European grid

» By | Published 10 Apr 2012 |

Next week Copenhagen will be buzzing with wind energy professionals keen to find out the latest market and technology developments at the EWEA annual conference and exhibition. The EWEA blog spoke to Michael Nørtoft Frydensbjerg from Siemens Wind Power who is chairing a session on 17 April aiming to uncover how wind power is driving the modernisation of European grids…

What are the limitations of the current EU grid and why does it need to change?

The electricity grid in Europe is mainly designed with an eye to distributing electricity from large power plants. Today power generation is more decentralised and large wind power plants are located away from traditional power plants. These changes in the power generation pattern have to be considered when designing the electricity grid in order to avoid bottlenecks and system collapse.

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Getting large amounts of wind power into the grid

» By | Published 28 Mar 2012 |

In just a few weeks Copenhagen will be a hive of wind energy activity as EWEA’s annual conference and exhibition gets going. In the run-up to the event, the EWEA blog spoke to Ana Estanqueiro, Chair of a session aimed at discovering how to integrate large amounts of wind power into Europe’s grids…

What are the main obstacles in Europe to integrating large amounts of wind power?

The main barriers these days are much less on the “hardware” side (access to transmission and distribution grids) and much more on the “software” side: grid-operation principles and electricity market rules. These are currently not well adapted to wind power and need to evolve in order to smoothly incorporate wind-powered electricity. Today, difficulties related to grid access are largely for offshore projects where investments are extremely high and usually need to be coordinated with other economic sectors.

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Will EU countries reach their 2020 renewable energy targets?

» By | Published 26 Mar 2012 |

In just under one month, Copenhagen will be home to Europe’s biggest wind energy conference and exhibition – EWEA 2012. The EWEA blog caught up with Emmanuelle Raoult, Chair of a session which delves into Europe’s progress on meeting the 20% renewable energy by 2020 target, to find out the current state of play…

What are National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) and why are they important?

NREAPs are detailed roadmaps of how each EU Member State expects to reach its legally binding 2020 targets. These are essential for Europe’s energy future, and can deliver the strong and stable regulatory framework that is needed to develop renewable energy in Europe.  Furthermore, NREAPs give the renewables industry ‘business case certainty’ – a key driver to attract investment in renewable energy. As wind energy projects are 20+ year investments, decreasing the risk of regulatory volatility is paramount to achieving an acceptable return on investment. NREAPs – if properly implemented – help reduce uncertainty.

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Stronger EU leadership needed on move to 30% CO2 cut

» By | Published 27 May 2010 |

Disappointment in some quarters, relief in others – yesterday’s publication by the European Commission on moving beyond 20% greenhouse gas emission reductions was met by a mixed bag of reactions.

Heavy industries (no surprises there) along with France and Germany emerged as ‘protectors’ of jobs in traditional sectors, while environment groups and the Governments of  UK, Spain and Belgium backed a commitment to slash CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020.

Notably, Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action,  warned that Europe could be on a path of long-term decline, affording space to the US and China to leap ahead in renewable energies. But she said the conditions are not yet right for a commitment to 30%.

“I think that in Europe we should also consider that you can risk losing jobs if you are too ambitious here, but there is also a price to pay if you stand still while your competitors move,” she said, quoted in the New York Times Green blog.

EWEA’s CEO, Christian Kjaer, said the EU is a “world leader” in wind energy, but it faces “serious competition” from the US, China, Japan, South Korea and India. “I would hate to see Europe losing out,” he said. EU officials have said China could be stalling a global deal on climate change in order to get ahead in renewable technology, the Daily Mail writes.

Niklas Hoehne from green consultancy Ecofys echoed this sentiment in saying, “if we stick with 20%, there will be fewer incentives for innovation.”

Chris Huhne, the newly appointed UK Energy and Climate Secretary urged other European countries to commit to 30% cuts: “Global climate change is the biggest challenge the world faces…that’s why we will push for the EU to demonstrate leadership by supporting an increase in the EU emissions reduction target to 30% by 2020,” he said, reported by the Times.

The cost of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% has fallen as a result of the financial crisis – from the original estimate of €70bn to €48bn today, with the leap to a 30% cut requiring just €11bn more – i.e well within our grasp, Spain’s El Pais notes.

But the financial crisis has fanned the flames in the protectionist direction too. Rainer Bruederle has asked for more time to get past the worst of the economic turmoil.  “At such a moment, it is legitimate to owe oneself more time,” he said this week.

Meanwhile, others hid behind the international community’s failure to reach a deal on climate change last December in Copenhagen. Business Europe, the European business lobby, said it was “convinced that any further increase of the EU’s unilateral 20% emission reduction target at this point in time would be unlikely to convince other nations to adopt comparable targets.”

Letdown at COP15 and the financial crisis are convenient pretexts that mask over the longer term problems of climate change and staying ahead in the global technological race, in particular in renewable energies. Let’s hope the short-term protectionist mask fades away and Europe takes stronger action to maintain its climate lead.

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