Wind Power, Denmark, and the Island of Denmark.

With 33% of the electricity it generated in 2013 coming from wind Denmark is a world leader in wind power – a remarkable achievement considering the difficulty of integrating Denmark’s highly erratic and sometimes overwhelming wind output with the small Danish grid. (Figure 1). The hourly data used to construct the Figures in this post are from the data base compiled by Paul-Frederik Bach:

Figure 1:  Total wind generation vs. load, hourly data, Denmark, 2013

The degree of difficulty is illustrated by the comparable plot of 2013 UK wind generation versus load shown in Figure 2:

Figure 2: Total wind generation vs. load, hourly data, National Grid, 2013

How do the Danes do it?

It’s commonly assumed that they do it by exporting the wind power surges the Danish grid can’t handle to the Norwegians and Swedes, who use the power to replace hydro generation and conserve water in their hydro reservoirs (our colleague Hugh Sharman in his 2009 study “Wind Energy, the Case of Denmark” estimated that only about half of the wind power generated in Denmark between 2000 and 2007 was actually consumed in Denmark). But while the Danes undoubtedly export a lot of their wind power to Norway and Sweden that isn’t all they do.

First some background on Denmark’s electricity system. According to ENTSO-E Denmark had at the end of 2013 a total of 14,865MW of installed generating capacity, consisting of 8,887MW of conventional thermal, 4,811MW of wind, 595MW of biomass, 563MW of solar and 9MW of hydro. These numbers provide two interesting insights, always assuming they are correct. The first is that Denmark’s total installed capacity exceeded its ~6,000MW 2013 peak load by a factor of well over two. The second is that if 4,811MW of wind supplied 33% of Denmark’s total 2013 generation, i.e. 11.1TWh, then the remaining 10,054MW generated 22.4TWh, which gives a load factor of only 25%, a percent or two less than the load factor for wind. It seems that Denmark’s  electricity system may already be operating at something less than peak efficiency, which may have something to do with why its domestic electricity rates are the highest in Europe.

But the key to Denmark’s high level of wind penetration is its location on the Nordic Grid between its larger neighbors Norway, Sweden and Germany, who between them generated 26 times as much electricity as Denmark in 2013. This gives Denmark access to an additional 5,820MW of interconnector capacity that it makes full use of (Figure 2):

Figure 2: Denmark’s Nordic Grid interconnectors (from

And the way it makes full use of it is by cycling interconnector flows to balance its erratic wind output. How Denmark does this under the constraints imposed by the Nordic Grid merit order system is something I haven’t looked into, but do it it does. The year-round correlation between wind generation and interconnector flows both in and out of Denmark, while not exact, is too close to permit any other interpretation. Examples are shown in Figure 3, which plots wind generation against interconnector flows for January, February and March (R=0.81) and June, July and August 2013 (R=0.83). The sine-wave patterns in the blue line show that interconnector flows were also cycled to follow the daily load curve as well as adjusted to balance fluctuations in wind output. The correlation coefficients would be higher if these patterns were not present. Note also that exports are plotted positive so that they move in the same sense as the interconnector flows:

Figure 3: Wind generation vs. interconnector flows (imports negative exports positive), Denmark, winter and summer months, 2013

It would appear that Denmark’s ready access to balancing power from the Nordic Grid allows it generate a lot more wind power than it would otherwise be able to, whether it consumes it or not.

But what if Denmark were an island with no interconnector links, like Eigg and El Hierro. How much of the wind power it generated in 2013 could it have consumed?

If we assume that Denmark Island’s 8,887MW of conventional thermal capacity has load-following capability it should in theory have been able to consume all of it (peak 2013 hourly load was 6,138MW at 6pm on January 24, a time when of course the wind wasn’t blowing). And had it done so 33% of its electricity demand would have been supplied by wind. But its thermal load-following capacity would have had to track the peaks and troughs  shown in Figure 4 to balance the irregularities in wind output (the red lines below the zero line show where wind would have had to be curtailed, but these make up less than 1% of total wind generation):

Figure 4: Backup generation needed to balance wind against load, “Denmark Island” actual data, 2013. The plot is constructed by subtracting hourly 2013 wind generation from 2013 hourly load.

And Denmark Island, like mainland Denmark, isn’t content with the status quo. It targets 50% electricity from wind by 2020. To analog a 50% level of penetration I scaled up 2013 installed wind capacity by 50/33 = 1.5, i.e. from 4,500MW to 6,750MW, factored 2013 wind generation up in proportion and subtracted it from 2013 load. Figure 5 shows the resulting generation curve the load-following plants would have to track. It’s not all that different from the Figure 4 curve, but the spikes are narrower and “spikier”:

Figure 5: Backup generation needed to balance wind against load, “Denmark Island”, 50% wind penetration. The plot is constructed by subtracting hourly 2013 wind generation times 1.5 from 2013 hourly load.

The problem, however, is that Denmark Island wouldn’t get 50% of its electricity from wind with a 50% capacity expansion because 20% of the added wind generation exceeds demand (the red lines go well off the bottom of the graph) and would have to be curtailed, leaving the island about 4% short of its target. To reach 50% it would in fact have to increase total wind generation by a factor of 1.7, i.e. from 4,500 to 7,650MW, whereupon more wind power is curtailed and the spikes get spikier yet.

And should Denmark Island then wish to expand its wind generation further it would find itself on the slippery slope of diminishing returns, because the more wind generation it adds the more it has to curtail until eventually almost all of it is curtailed and no significant amount added. Figure 6 summarizes the impacts of increasing levels of wind penetration, calculated by scaling up 2013 wind generation:

Figure 6: Impacts of increased installed wind capacity on wind penetration, wind curtailment and wind load factor, “Denmark Island”

Taking one point on the graph as an example, to achieve 80% wind penetration Denmark Island would need around 25,000MW of installed wind capacity – over five times as much as it has now – and at this capacity level almost 90% of the generation added by each extra MW would get curtailed along with over half of the total wind power generated. .

At high levels of wind penetration problems also begin to arise with the load-balancing capacity. As shown in Figure 7, it’s heavily underutilized:

Figure 7: Backup generation needed to balance wind against load, “Denmark Island”, 80% wind penetration. The plot is constructed by subtracting hourly 2013 wind generation times 5.4 from 2013 hourly load.

And the spikes have become spiky to the point where it’s questionable whether the thermal load-following capacity would be able to ramp quickly enough to follow them, as shown in Figure 8. (The 100MW/minute upper limit is from Wartsila, who cite an average of 25MW/minute for “industrial frame gas turbine models”.) Ramp rates don’t change appreciably up to 55% wind penetration but above this level they begin to increase rapidly and above ~75% penetration they exceed the 100MW/minute limit. Might this preclude further wind expansion? Comments are solicited from experts:

Figure 8: Ramp rates versus percent wind penetration, “Denmark Island”.

But Denmark Island is of course imaginary. What does the future hold for the real Denmark? Interconnector flows are reportedly not limited by ramp rates, so Denmark has an agile load-following capability that shouldn’t prevent it integrating more wind power into its grid. So if the Nordic Grid can keep Denmark supplied with the electricity it needs to balance increasing wind output then wind power in Denmark,  all other things being equal and assuming the Danes are prepared to pay for it, will grow to meet Denmark’s goal of 100% renewable energy. But if it can’t growth will stall, and if the supply starts to dry up Danish wind power will start to dry up with it. And the risk for Denmark, of course, is that  supply from the Nordic Grid will start to dry up after it’s gone 100% renewable.

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69 Responses to Wind Power, Denmark, and the Island of Denmark.

  1. John Weber says:

    Wind energy capturing devices are extensions of the fossil fuel supply system and the global industrial infrastructure. They are not renewable nor “green” nor sustainable without this support.

  2. renewstudent says:

    Surplus wind to gas conversion seems to be the way forward that you missed out

    • Graeme No.3 says:

      So your ‘solution’ to an inefficient but expensive process is to add another inefficient and more expensive process?

      By the way, which gas did you mean? Hydrogen via hydrolysis, so beloved by those who have never seen or done that (outside of a test-tube) or converting CO2 to gas or liquid fuel? Both require vast amounts of energy.
      HINT we burn fuel to obtain energy. Reversing the process requires more energy, particularly when the method is inefficient.

      Taking wind electricity at $100 a MWh (figure likely a little low) and converting it to hydrogen at 40% efficiency (probably a bit high) and then converting it back to electricity in a fuel cell at 80% efficiency gives a figure of $312 for something obtainable from coal at one tenth of that.
      Converting CO2 to methane? First start with hydrogen from wind power….

      Yes, both can be done, but who would try to do either assuming they were sane?

      • Willem Post says:


        Non-technical people deceived to entertaining such notions should be forgiven, as they know not what they are talking about.

        Most engineers could not be deceived to entertain such notions. The few that do should be made to hand in their license.

      • olav says:

        If hydrogen is used as a desired product then energywise is elecrolysis just as effective as producing hydrogen from natural gas. Both technologies has aproxomately a 30% loss, but economically it will not work yet, but we may be forced to. Converting Hydrogen and CO2 to methane or burning it for electricity does not qualify for me as a desired product..there are better ways…

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Would you care to give us the energy efficiencies of making “gas” and the energy recovery from that “gas”.

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    thank you for this. It is one thing to guess that much of the wind electricity has to be exported and another to do the hard work.

    A couple of comments if I may: I believe that Denmark has 2 electricity grids, not interconnected. Thus west Denmark has more turbines but less population, so is even more committed to exporting to Norway and Sweden (and to Germany?). As far as I know East Denmark exports to (& imports from) Sweden and Germany only. With the vast increase in wind capacity in Germany recently and Poland and the Czech Republic moving to isolate themselves from power surges from Germany, Denmark may find it hard to dump surplus electricity even if they have to pay to dump it.

    Secondly, Denmark has around 600 Combined Heat & Power plants which typically operate at 20-25% efficiency for electricity generation. Add around another 60% for the residual heat used for district heating, but that won’t show in your figures. Even their larger plants aren’t that much more efficient, it is the use of ‘waste heat’ that makes them efficient. The heat use doesn’t show as it just reduces the overall consumption.

    I find it ironic that Denmark is “nuclear free” when every time they import electricity from Sweden or Germany some of it comes from nuclear plants. Or do they have a magic filter which stops nuclear sourced power from entering?

    • Hugh Sharman says:

      Graeme # 3, Denmark has been operated as a single grid system since 2011 when the 600 MW, HVDC inte-connector across The Great Belt was commissioned, as Roger shows clearly. On the other hand, the islands of East DK are synchronised with the Nordic System while the Peninsula of Jutland is synchronised with the rest of Europe through Germany with whom its HVAC is inter-connected.

      • Graeme No.3 says:

        Thanks Hugh.
        When you say synchronised I take it you mean adjusting generation with demand.

        • Lars says:

          No, synchronisation in this sense means something else. In a three phase system which is normal one has to match each (synchronous) generator to the grid by regulating the speed (rpm) and make sure the frequency (Hertz) is exactly the same all over (ie. 50 Hz in Europe + most other countries and 60 in North America).

          In a synchronous generator the phase sequence is fixed and the 50 Hertz frequency will be reached at a certain rpm. These generators are either running full speed or stand still. In a non-synchronous generator the rpm can vary because the Hertz is controlled by a frequency converter, allowing for rapid load change. In a typical large Norwegian hydro plant with for instance 4 generators 2 are synchronous and 2 non-synchronous to cover both base load and load/consumption following. The disadvantage of non-synchronous generators is a certain energy loss in the frequency converter and more expensive to install and maintain.

          Finland, Sweden, Norway and Eastern Denmark (Zealand) are synchonous whereas Western Denmark (Jutland) is synchronous with most of Europe except the UK, Ireland, the Baltic states, Russia, Belarus and some more.

          • Graeme No.3 says:

            Thanks Lars.
            If Norway and Sweden are connected to most of Europe through Jutland, and through Zealand, surely the 2 halves of Denmark would be synchronised?
            Since the 2 parts of Denmark are connected by DC it seems that I misunderstand it.

          • Lars says:

            There is no synchronization between DC connectors. The distance between Western and Eastern Denmark is just a narrow strait, if the two grids had been synchronous surely the connector would be AC instead of DC just like the connector from southern Sweden to the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.

          • Graeme No.3 says:

            Sorry Lars:
            I was assuming the connection from Denmark to Sweden/Norway were AC. Now that I have checked I see they are DC so don’t have to be synchronised.
            Thanks for your help.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Denmark will find life a whole lot more challenging should Sweden close down their nukes.

    • roberto says:

      “I find it ironic that Denmark is “nuclear free” when every time they import electricity from Sweden or Germany some of it comes from nuclear plants. Or do they have a magic filter which stops nuclear sourced power from entering?”

      Ehi!… the Danes are not alone!… Austria seems to think the same too…
      “Starting in 2015, there is an obligation in Austria to demonstrate the origin of electricity. The sale of the ENTSOE mix, which theoretically includes a share of nuclear power, is no longer possible. We therefore also only offer our industry customers electricity with a certificate of origin (which then does not even theoretically contain any nuclear power).”

      Now I can’t find my way through the ENTSO-E web site… they’ve changed it… is anybody capable of looking/posting some data about import into Austria of electricity from CH or DE (or Slovenia, which has one reactor)?


  4. Hugh Sharman says:

    Exellent paper Roger! Good work!

    Of course, the thermal plants cannot operate profitably in this “liberalized” market, just selling electricity and heat. So DONG and Vattenfall, the State-owned companies that “purchased” the central heat and power stations from the Danish people in 2005 when these were “privatised” in 2005 have both been forced write down the value of these, despite that from a utility view point these are almost new!

    It is therefore only a matter of time before they will have to be rescued from bankruptcy by a capacity charge for staying on line for when the wind is not blowing and the Norwegian reservoirs are so low that they cannot export electricity, just as they were unable to do during the winter 2010 – 2011.

    In those days, every fossil (and atomic) power plant in the region was exporting power to Norway 24 hours per day.

    Dry years recur on an average of once every ten years or so.

    • Willem Post says:


      Thank you for sharing these sobering thoughts with us.

      When I think of Danish wind power, the Egyptian pyramids come to mind.

      Had those Pharaohs used that national energy to build a better society, the Exodus likely would not have occurred.

    • Thank you Hugh.

      One of the things that intrigues me is how Denmark works the Nordic Grid, which I believe works under a merit order system, to balance its wind output so closely against interconnector flows. Do you have any insights on this?

    • Hugh: One of the things I didn’t include in the post was my estimate of how much Danish wind power was exported in 2013. I made two estimates using the “Bach Algorithm”. If I assumed that Danish wind was exported to Norway, Sweden and Germany I got 26% exported. If I assumed that it went only to Norway and Sweden I got 57%, close to the numbers you came up with in 2009. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between the two?

      I also took another look at the CEESA and Smith rebuttals. Once more I concluded that their arguments that the exported power was thermal power and not wind are specious.

      • Willem Post says:


        Once any energy is on the grid, it is part of the mix. It moves, as
        electromagnetic waves, at near the speed of light.

        The second by second flows across interconnctors are know, as are wind production, conventional production and demand.

        It takes some computer work to add and substact to determine exports and imports, and to conclude MIX exports are usually high at high winds and usually low at low winds.

        For CEESA to say it is thermal energy is hogwash.

  5. Not only that but the Danes pay to have the electricity stored and to have it back from Sweden and Norway.

  6. Willem Post says:


    Thank you for this article. You have a clear understanding of what is happening.

    I wish you would add 2 graphs; one for a high wind week and one for a low wind week.

    The graphs would show Danish demand, and the sum of Danish conventional production plus wind production.

    Show any excess production (exports) in blue, any shortage (imports) in red.

    For exports and imports, we know the hours, wholesale prices and export revenue and import costs.

    It is likely, all other weeks would be in between these extremes.

    Two more graphs could show the conditions with wind energy increased to 50% of demand, with demand assumed a constant.

    • Willem. I don’t have the data to give you everything you ask for but maybe these will help:

      • Willem Post says:


        Thank you.

        Paul-Frederik Bach is very helpful and may be able to provide the sources or downloads of information you need.

        It appears the average wind level is about 2500 MW and the average export about 500 MW during a windy week.

        It appears the average wind level is about 1000 MW and the average import about 1000 MW during a calm week.

        It is likely, the other weeks are in between these extremes.

        If the data were totaled for a year, total consumption, wind and exports, in TWh, would result. By knowing the wholesale prices, dollars can be assigned to the import and export energy quantities.

        As Denmark expensively increases wind energy from 33% to 50% of total consumption, almost all of the additional energy would need to be exported, assuming consumption remains the same, and no changes in the rest of its power system, other than increased grid build-outs.

        Denmark is planning to connect more plug-in vehicles and heat more district heating storage tanks to reduce those exports.

  7. dereklouden says:

    SSE are looking at Pump Storage Hydro as a solution to this problem. When no-one wants the wind power from 1:00am to 7:00am wind can push water uphill. When peak demand hits it can let the water fall downhill again. They seem to think this is worth expanding at Foyers and Glendoe in the Highlands and have a third scheme underway in addition. There is a suggestion that Scottish Power could also invest at Cruachan. Similar plant operates at Dinorwig and Ffestiniog in Snowdonia.

    Whilst we are somewhat limited in the UK this isn’t the case in Norway. There are lots of Fjords where this could be done. Norway also has sufficient capital resources to undertake the works for new construction or retro-fits to enable conventional hydro to be converted to pump storage.

    Storing wind power as hydrogen is a lot more expensive but there is extensive research being undertaken in this area which, if successful, will bring the cost down and give us a world-leading technology. I hope I’m not alone in backing this research and wishing it works.

    • Willem Post says:


      I lived in Norway for three years. They love their environment. They will not ruin it with:

      – Dozens of new upper and lower reservoirs
      – Connecting piping and pumping stations
      – Transmisssion lines

      to accommodate Danish, or any other country’s, wind energy.

      Norway, population about 5 million, has a $1 trillion National Oil Fund for PENSIONS. The fund is steadily growing.

      Norway is rich enough to say no.

      • dereklouden says:

        Hello Willem
        Retro-fitting conventional hydro schemes to operate as Pump Storage using existing upper reservoirs and transmission lines doesn’t strike me as the most destructive way to meet Norway’s future energy demands. Yes, they’d need some new lower reservoirs but I’d prefer that to Nuclear or imported gas. Perhaps they will too?
        NBIM manages the 6.5Tn NOK fund on behalf of the people of Norway with a view to ensuring the future standard of living of Norway’s population as oil and gas revenues fall. In recent times Norway’s Government has considered switching investment to “green” the fund. So far this has been resisted. The fund invests outside of Norway to prevent inflation taking off at home. In doing so they have tackled the potential “Dutch Disease” – inflation suffered by the Netherlands following the discovery of gas in the southern North Sea. As time goes on, the domestic inflationary pressure will ease and investment will be possible at home. Norway is rich enough to say “no” but it is also smart enough to say “yes”.

        • Assuming Norway says “yes”, how much additional hydro generation/storage capacity might result?

          • dereklouden says:

            Hello Roger
            That would be entirely up to the people of Norway to decide. A small scheme I visited was installed by two farmers who’d taken out a loan. Perhaps a few thousand of them would be better than pumped storage.
            One interesting finding was that local communities got a share of major hydro schemes revenues to fund local services. This resulted in a lot more interest and involvement in Local Government in Norway.

          • Derek: What I was getting at was that a wind/solar powered Europe is going to need hundreds of gigawatts, if not terawatts, of backup capacity. I’ve never seen an estimate of how much of this backup capacity Norwegian hydro might be able to provide and was hoping that you (or someone) might be able to provide me with one.

          • Willem Post says:


            If Norway were part of the EU, it might be pressured by Brussels to give up its environment for save-the-world “solidarity” reasons, as with sanctions on Russia that reduce EU economic growth. It is called shooting oneself in the foot.

            To serve much of Europe (assuming in the future less gas would be used for balancing), the ADDITIONAL capacity of the NEW upper and lower reservoirs would be many TWh.

            Norway’s current consumption is about 128 TWh, of which 122 from hydro plants.

            This article is a good summary of what is needed to serve some of Europe.


          • roberto says:

            Hi: I’ve already posted on this blog few months ago a link to a Eurelectric study, Europe-wide, about the potential of pumped hydro… including Turkey!… let’s see if I can find it again quickly…

            This is not it…


            … but it does the job, I think.

            “The results show that the theoretical potential in Europe is significant under both topologies, and that the potential of topology 2 is roughly double that of topology 1.
            Under T1 the theoretical potential energy stored reaches 54 TWh when a maximum of 20 km between existing reservoirs is considered; of this potential approximately 11 TWh correspond to the EU and 37 TWh to candidate countries, mostly Turkey.
            When a shorter maximum distance between existing reservoirs is considered, e.g. 5 km, the majority of the 0.83 TWh European theoretical potential is in the EU (85%).”

            With less than ONE TWh of storage as a THEORETICAL value, “island Europe” will go NOWHERE!



        • Euan Mearns says:

          Norway is a world leader in Th nuclear technology. I doubt they will ever import natural gas. And they are already 100% self sufficient in hydro. They don’t use pumped hydro as far as I know. And the question is about wrecking Norway to pander to Danish environmental ideology. There is already push back on new hydro schemes.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            I need to add, what logic is there in suggesting Norway should use pumped hydro? I believe nearly all pumped hydro schemes today are designed to store nuclear baseload at night for use in day time peak. In Norway they are NEVER going to use surplus hydroelectric power to pump water back up the hill. They simply stop producing and conserve water in their magazines for when it is needed most.

          • dereklouden says:

            Hello Euan
            Norway could use Danish wind power to push its water back up hill. SSE uses SSE windpower to push SSE hydro back up the hill in Scotland. This is commercially viable as once it gets there it falls downhill to meet peak demand. This has nothing to do with subsidies it is driven by profit. Push water uphill when power costs 4p per kwh and generate power by sending it downhill when it is 12p per kwh. Seems to make sense to me.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            SSE uses SSE windpower to push SSE hydro back up the hill in Scotland.

            Where? All statements like this need to be backed by facts on this site.

          • dereklouden says:

            Details of the consented Coire Glas scheme can be found here:
            Existing schemes which balance demand are:
            The ones in Wales may indeed be used to balance Nuclear which is much more prevalent south of the border:

          • Euan Mearns says:

            SSE uses SSE windpower to push SSE hydro back up the hill in Scotland.

            Derek, you seem to lack a basic grasp of the English language and of the realities of the energy world and are therefore liable to mislead my readers.

            I wasn’t looking for the A to Z of UK pumped storage schemes. I was looking for links to the examples where you claim Scottish and Southern Energy are already using pumped hydro storage to store their surplus wind power.

            I just Googled Coire Glas, and oh look what came second on the list at Google, one ahead of the SSE entry 🙂


          • Euan Mearns says:

            Norway could use Danish wind power to push its water back up hill.


            You cannot simply convert conventional hydro to pumped hydro. Pumped hydro needs a large lower reservoir and most conventional hydro schemes spill into a river.

            In Scotland, using lochs in the Great Glen as a lower reservoir sounds great – until you realise that when you pump, you lower water levels and the rivers run dry and when you produce you raise water levels and rivers run in flood. Controlling hydrology using conventional hydro presents a huge challenge already.

            Why on Earth would the Norwegians want to despoil their countryside by building new pumped hydro schemes to store Danish wind? What would be the point?

          • dereklouden says:

            Loch Mhor (the upper reservoir) was formed by a dam which raised the water level in Loch Farraline and Loch Garth and united the two in an, as its name suggests, “big loch”. The lower reservoir is Loch Ness. Were the whole of Loch Farraline (maximum depth 20m) to drain into Loch Ness I’d estimate Loch Ness would rise by less than half an inch:
            Loch Ness is 23 miles long and has a surface area of 22 square miles or 56 square kms and is 230m deep at its maximum containing more fresh water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Derek, the Foyers pumped storage scheme is a minnow compared with Coire Glas. And Coire Glas is a minnow compared with the amount of storage actually required to span wind lulls – which we have had recently.

    • The growth of renewable energy in Europe seems to be predicated on the assumption that when your country runs short of power some other country (usually Norway) will be able to send you some. No one stops to think of what will happen when every country runs short at the same time.

    • Leo Smith says:

      I’ve been reading a book by Roger Scruton,. He identifies a class of mind call Utopian, to which the solution to any failed policy is to spend more money on it…

  8. Pingback: Charting the costs and effectiveness of Renewable Energy in Europe | edmhdotme

  9. Jacob says:

    I have a question: how does hydro work in Norway, in winter? Doesn’t the water freeze over for 2-3 months in most parts?

  10. Willem & Roberto: It’s getting congested higher up so I’m responding down here. Thanks for the articles on hydro. I get the impression that Europe is not going to get much extra help from the Norwegians when it comes to balancing intermittent wind & solar generation.

    • Lars says:

      Roger, the new Skagerrak 4 HVDC was commissioned a month ago and the capacity Norway-Denmark is now 1632 MW in both directions plus about 70 MW reserved for TSOs. So your map is a bit outdated.

      The Konti-Skan between Jutland and Sweden on the other hand only has a 300 MW capacity for a long time ahead it seems; two of the cables are very old and need replacement I believe.

  11. William says:

    Pumped storage and ever higher curtailment rates are not the only possible means of accommodating excess wind-generated electricity. Demand management is likely to feature more in coming years and has the potential to increase the flexibility of the grid at the same time as increased use of EVs and maybe heat pumps increase total demand. A grid with increased wind penetration does not *have* to be as dysfunctional as you portray it.

    • Lars says:

      William, putting the economics aside for a brief moment I tend to agree somewhat with you although as pointed out several times on Energy Matters Denmark is a “special case” because it is ideally placed between larger neighbours and with access to hydro power. Technically I suppose the Danes still can install a lot more wind turbines and have a functional grid.

      The question is how smart that will be. Firstly it is motivated by the flawed (imo) of global warming due to CO2, demonizing the use of coal above all which still is an abundant an cheap source of energy. The fine network in Denmark of highly efficient CHPs, both large and small local ones are threatened with extinction which again imo is beyond stupid, it`s madness. Many of these CHPs don`t just use coal but also biomass like wood chips and straw.

      Secondly the Danes are basically subsidizing cheap surplus power to their neighbours when it is blowing a lot and vice versa have to import at much higher prices when it is not blowing. I remember some years ago a friend of mine who worked in the North Sea described Danish firms/subcontractors as “the Jews of Northern Europe” in the sense they were smart business people. He said the Danish subcontractors would often turn up at work without any equipment and tools at all leaving it to the “daft” Norwegians to supply them pushing the cost at us 🙂
      But excessive wind power doesn`t sound like a good business model to me, so I don`t know, maybe the Danes have lost the grip…

  12. actinideage says:

    Great, detailed analysis.

    “But Denmark Island is of course imaginary.”

    Technically true, but have a look at my home state.

    As of 2014, we have about 4.7 GW of registered capacity (so not quite as much as Denmark), and nearly 1.3 GW (27%) of that is wind, which provides 31% annually. We have a single 460 MW (max) interconnector to the neighbouring market in Victoria, and plans for another that are currently in limbo. We currently import substantially more supply than we export, but an almost 3-fold expansion of wind generation is proposed on our side (now held up, naturally, by uncertainties over regulatory support).

    Build those wind farms, cut that interconnector, and that’s pretty much Denmark Island right there.

    • Actinide: Thank you for the link. It looks interesting. I’ll take a closer look at it when I get back from dinner.

      • actinideage says:

        Don’t get “too excited” by the proposed capacity shown on page 8 – the concentrating solar proposal is merely the result of an expensive feasibility study and would require unprecedented government support and subsidies

        Other than that, geothermal will likely never go anywhere either.

        • Actinide: I got back too late last night to do anything but took a look at the report this morning. I get the impression from comments like the one below that SA has the same problem as Denmark, having to balance whatever fraction of its wind output it can’t balance with gas fired plants with imports/exports from and to Victoria.

          Prior to 2006–07, South Australia electricity imports from Victoria dominated over exports. However from 2006–07, factors such as more expensive interstate supply, drought conditions, and increased wind generation in South Australia have led to reduced imports and increased exports.

          But because the report provides no generation data I can’t confirm this. Do you know where there might be some?

          • actinideage says:

            Our wind output is roughly correlated, and seems to be balanced as you say by ramping fossil but also by Tasmania’s extensive hydropower (which they are keen to save right now, with rather low dams).

            I haven’t played with it myself but our grid data should be here

          • Roger Andrews says:

            Actinide. Thanks for the link. I looked through it but was unable to find anything resembling the UK Gridwatch data. I suspect that SA maybe doesn’t publish any, unless they’re buried somewhere in those thousands of 2kB zipped archive files. But maybe I’m missing something?

  13. A C Osborn says:

    Euan, another worrying analysis of the German Energy Industry.
    I was not aware of this part.
    “in fact that Germany had to pass legislation forcing producers to keep their fossil plants on stand-by, and to do so even if they lost money. ”

    Were you?

    See more at:

  14. Pingback: AWED Energy & Environmental Newsletter: February 17, 2015 - Master Resource

  15. Pingback: Recent Energy And Environmental News – February 17th 2015 | PA Pundits - International

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