Although many politicians in the US are still in denial about global warming and the nation’s frightening addiction to expensive, imported oil, President Barack Obama’s government continues promoting the development of an offshore wind sector.
The latest evidence of the government’s realisation that wind power can help mitigate climate change, provide increased energy security and be part of a new green economy occurred earlier this week with an announcement that $50.5 million (€37.1 mn) has been earmarked to support the offshore sector.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the money will be used for projects that support offshore wind power deployment and several high priority wind energy areas off the mid-Atlantic coast “that will spur rapid, responsible development of this abundant renewable resource.”
Greenpeace has hit the nail on the head in its just-launched report, pinpointing grid extension and smart grid management as crucial to the integration of large amounts of CO2-free renewable energy.
The ‘Battle of the Grids’ report shows that the lack of a fair energy market in Europe means renewables are often forced to play second fiddle to traditional power sources in getting access to the network. However, in a wider, more flexible power network, renewables could be transported from where they are produced to where the power is needed. According to Greenpeace, renewable energy could provide the majority – 68% — of Europe’s power by 2030. EWEA’s wind-only goal for the same year is 33% of Europe’s electricity – nearly half Greenpeace’s target from one renewable source alone. Both Greenpeace and EWEA think renewable energy can provide 100% of Europe’s electricity by 2050.
What is also important to remember, especially in these economically difficult times, is the vast savings well-thought-out grid development would bring. EWEA’s ‘Powering Europe’ report, released last November, identifies a massive €1,500 million yearly reduction in total operational costs of power generation due to the increased availability of all generation capacity. And if we can integrate 265 gigawatt (GW) of wind into Europe’s grids by 2020, we can save at least €41.7bn per year in the cost of electricity because wind power replaces power sources where fuel must be constantly bought and paid for.
EWEA’s GRIDS 2010 conference is two weeks away. But what is it about, and why is it happening?
“Grids is a red-hot topic, which is at the forefront of policy makers’ minds right now”, explains Amy Parsons, EWEA’s Conference Manager. “The grids issue affects the wind energy industry because without a fully connected pan-European grid wind power cannot be effectively taken from where it is produced to where it is needed. And next year will be especially crucial, as the Commission is just about to publish its infrastructure package outlining how the European Union intends to ensure that a European grid becomes a reality.”
So from a political point of view it seems like a good time to organise an event focusing on electricity grids, especially from the point of view of the European wind industry.
Wind power in New York could be increased in the next eight years by more than five times the amount currently operating in the state, a new study has found.
Continued wind development would bring a number of benefits to the 19.5 million people living in the state, including lowered energy production costs and decreased amounts of CO2 and other harmful pollutants, the study by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) found.
“Wind power is a vital component of New York State’s renewable energy strategy,” Stephen Whitley, NYISO president, said in a press release issued Thursday. “This study provides a much clearer picture of the benefits consumers can see as a result of continued wind development.”
At the Europacable annual general meeting in Paris last week I raised the astounding fact that after 24 years of a single European market in goods, services, people and capital, we still do not have the fifth freedom: the free of movement of electricity. We urgently need to establish this. Europe’s current supply structure still bears the characteristics of the fossil-fuel powered time in which it was developed. It is national in nature, the technologies applied are ageing and the markets supporting it are underdeveloped.
Modern electricity infrastructure is the pre-condition to this fifth freedom and one in which Europacable plays a vital role. Over the next 12 years, Europe must use the opportunity created by the large turnover in capacity to construct a new, modern power system capable of meeting the energy and climate challenges of the 21st century. We need interconnected grids that create corridors of trade in electricity in Europe that will bring down prices for consumers.
We also need to introduce a smarter management of the electricity sector adjusting the rules and regulations on the supply side to meet the needs of wind energy. This must include shorter gate closure times so that the providers of wind energy can give two hours notice instead of two days notice of the amount of power they will supply. New rules must reflect the fact that for the last two years the majority of new electricity capacity installed was wind.
On the demand side we must move towards a more intelligent pricing of electricity giving consumers better price signals so that non-essential electricity consumption can be moved to times of lower demand.
The European cable industry and the European wind industry are both world leaders; they have this strong point in common. We can work together to create a European policy agenda that favours a better electricity infrastructure, bringing more and more wind power online and driving down prices for consumers.