This post follows on from Wind Blowing Nowhere Again and the sequel A Big Gale. In Blowing Nowhere I presented wind data for Denmark, the UK and Germany for September and October 2015 which was a period marked by calm conditions across much of Northern Europe. I have since acquired wind data for France and Sweden and this post adds these data to see if extending the geographic range makes any difference to smoothing the wind data.
I also present a chart that normalises the data from the 5 countries to a 10GW capacity per country datum. This downgrades the status of Germany and upgrades the status of Sweden and Denmark that have much smaller wind parks. The UK and France are little changed. This makes little difference to the interpretation with 4 significant lulls where the wind dropped close to zero across the whole of northern Europe. No matter how many turbines are installed or how many inter connectors are built, Europe will always be dependent upon 100% backup from fossil fuels on a regular basis.
Figure 1 Click chart for a very large version that will open in a new browser window. This chart updates the picture shown in Blowing Nowhere with the addition of Sweden and France. The French data are from Gridwatch, the Swedish data were sent to me by Bengt Randers. The numbers 1 to 9 marked periods in Denmark, the UK and Germany when the combined wind output fell below 5000 MW. It is plain to see that adding Sweden and France makes little difference to the big picture.
The power distribution shown in Figure 1 is quite heavily influenced by the size of the wind parks in the various countries, for example Denmark with 4.9 GW and Germany with 41.4 GW installed capacity. This means that Germany dominates the picture. There are a number of options to smooth out this variance in capacity and the simplest one is to imagine that each country had the same size of wind park. I have therefore normalised the outputs for each country to a nominal 10,000 MW using the installed capacities below:
- Sweden 5,729
- Denmark 4,890
- UK 9,136
- France 9,285
- Germany 41,360
The normalised data for Sweden is simply (10,000/5,729)*measured. This has the effect of roughly doubling the weight of Denmark and Sweden and quartering the weight of Germany. This changes the detail quite significantly but the big picture hardly at all (Figure 2).
Figure 2 Synthetic, normalised wind data for Sweden, Denmark, UK, France and Germany. This shows what the picture would be if each country had 10 GW installed capacity. The four major regional lulls are numbered.
Normalisation not only downgrades Germany but shows that the wind output for this period was quite pathetic. Similarly so for the UK which matches my perception of a long quiescent period. In contrast, Denmark and Sweden now contribute the lion’s share and were presumably relatively more windy. There are four deep regional lulls (numbered) where the combined output of 50 GW nominal capacity fell well below 5 GW. The lowest combined output was on 3rd October at 2074 MW (4.2% capacity) and the longest calm spell was 18, 19 and 20th of October.
To wrap this up, the weather in Europe has since become more stormy with significant fuss surrounding Abigail, the first named storm. I thought it would be interesting to run a UK chart from 1 September through to present to see the difference between quiescent and stormy weather (Figure 3).
Figure 3 UK metered wind output to 13 November 2015. The marks are at 24 hour intervals. The two month period with high pressure in charge has now given way to more stormy conditions.
On Thursday evening at about 7 o’clock I grabbed a couple of snap shots from Gridwatch and Clive Best. Gridwatch’s metered wind came in at 6.24 GW and it turns out that was the peak of wind over the UK land mass. That is equivalent to 68% load. The chart shows there was nothing exceptional about Abigail, much of the wind was offshore and in NW Scotland. Perhaps the next storm could be called Teacup 😉 A look at constraint payments shows that stormy weather cost UK electricity consumers £6.5 million in the period 8th to 13th November.