When the wind blows it is common for it to blow everywhere at once in Europe. When the wind doesn’t blow, it is common for it to be calm everywhere at once in Europe. No amount of electricity grid interconnection can solve this problem. This post casts another critical eye over UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey’s statements made to The Independent newspaper on 2nd January.
Figure 1 Stacked chart for actual wind generation from Germany, Spain and the UK for January 2013. Hourly data from www.pfbach.com (see end of post). The Green fantasy that it will always be windy somewhere and increasing grid connectivity could therefore move vast amounts of Green electricity around Europe is quaint. But real data shows it is also plain wrong.
In his interview with The Independent, Ed Davey said this:
…there was an urgent need to build a giant network of electricity interconnectors across Europe, allowing vast amounts of energy to be moved between countries, driving down prices.
In yesterday’s posting I made the point that there was not vast amounts of cheap energy just floating around Europe waiting to arrive on Britain’s grid, quite the contrary. And so one is left guessing what Ed Davey actually means and I presume he is referring to surpluses of wind power that are periodically produced during windy periods in Germany or elsewhere. And if this is the case it leaves me flabbergasted since actual wind generation data has existed for years that shows the Green fantasy of moving wind power from areas of surplus to areas of deficit quite simply will not work for much of the time.
Scrutiny of Figures 1 and 2 will show that there are periods of surplus in Germany and Spain and deficit in the UK, e.g. 10th Jan 2013. Every now and then, greater interconnection may help distribute surplus wind energy. But does it really make any engineering, economic or environmental sense to build a vastly expensive European super-grid that may only ever be useful every now and then?
Figure 2 Stacked chart for actual wind generation from Germany, Spain and the UK for June 2013. Hourly data from www.pfbach.com (see below). Note multiple episodes where the wind doesn’t blow anywhere in Europe matched my multiple episodes of wind everywhere at once. Also note the diurnal pattern prevalent for much of the month with troughs in supply during peak day time demand.
The UK urgently needs a sensible and competent energy policy and Energy Minister to match.
The data presented here was downloaded from the web site of Paul-Frederik Bach (right hand margin, international time series). Data compilations begin in 2006 and progress to include data for Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Great Britain, France, Spain and Belgium. Data include wind generation, exports, prices etc. Paul-Frederik has been assisted in this compilation by Hubert Flocard. Many thanks to Paul-Frederik and Hubert for providing this splendid and invaluable resource.
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