Wind energy: is storage the missing link?

Topics
No items found.
Adam Barber
June 22, 2011
This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Wind energy: is storage the missing link?

On 1st May 2011, London-based Renewable Energy Forum recently researched and published a story about the curtailment of Scottish wind farms during a wet and windy April weekend. This story caught the eye of editors at UK and international newspapers because they were compensated to the tune of almost £ one million at rates that seemed excessive.

9345422-300x184.jpg



In fact, compensated wind farm curtailment is a regular feature in parts of Germany where wind and PV power capacity has increased faster than either the distributed or the high voltage networks. An example can be viewed from the web page of distributed electricity operator Eon-Hansa. German renewable energy operators are protected by the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) and are fully compensated for the lost sales of actual power when curtailed, if not at the high level that was used in UK. The fraction of all renewable generation that is being curtailed – or is causing negative pricing in the spot market is now significant. Feed-in tariffs in Germany are subsidized by all electricity consumers. Many of these are already far from happy about rises in their electricity bills that clearly favour a small minority of citizens with such well-protected business interests; they are even less happy about paying for electricity that is not produced at all!

The EEG has been hugely successful in stimulating the growth of renewable energy capacity. At the end of 2010, Germany had 18 GW of PV, almost 28 GW of wind power and about 2 GW of biogas power plants. The EEG is currently being reviewed and it is expected that a new version of the law will be passed during 2012. The purpose of this is two-fold being to continue to nurture the use of renewable energy while reducing the negative impacts of highly intermittent power inputs on the system as a whole and on consumer prices in particular.

The Spanish grid operator Réd Eléctrica also has access to every wind turbine in the country and also, routinely, curtails wind power on the occasions when local networks are unable to cope with the increased loads.

In fact, increasing distribution and transmission capacity is both more difficult and more expensive than many are prepared to admit. Permits to upgrade overhead power lines or build new ones are difficult to obtain and can cause delays of many years.

One method for increasing renewable energy utilization in areas where there is a high penetration of renewable energy but a low capacity for increasing transmission and distribution is to install distributed storage. Aided by modern power electronics, such distributed storage can also deliver local and national balancing services as well as VAR support.

Transmission-level storage at high voltage is one of the main reasons why there is such a high wind power penetration with minimum curtailment in countries like Denmark (where Norway acts as its “wind power battery”) and Spain which has 23 GW of hydropower that balances renewables. But in the rest of Europe, only a very limited amount of new pumped storage can be built, so decentralized, distributed storage seems to fit in well with the new paradigm.

The question still remains how this can paid for. It is clear that distributed electricity storage provides a wide range of technical benefits to the electricity system has a whole. However, few jurisdictions which are legislating for a high penetration of renewable energy are prepared to recognize and compensate investors for new storage equipment. This is partly because, since liberalization during the 1990s their regulators cannot decide whether storage should fit in the system as “generation” or “transmission”. Regulators, tied down to obsolete legislation, do not seem able to see the big picture of how an electricity system must be optimized in the new paradigm of high renewable penetration. Fortunately California and Germany seem to moving towards recognizing that a high penetration of stochastic power inputs demands a response in high levels of storage and are legislating accordingly. Where they lead, the rest of the World is likely to follow.

Hugh Sharman is the owner of Denmark-based, Incoteco, EU Director for Marketing and Sales at Prudent Energy and the editor of Energy blog, DimWatt. Hugh graduated in civil engineering from Imperial College in 1962.

On 1st May 2011, London-based Renewable Energy Forum recently researched and published a story about the curtailment of Scottish wind farms during a wet and windy April weekend. This story caught the eye of editors at UK and international newspapers because they were compensated to the tune of almost £ one million at rates that seemed excessive.

9345422-300x184.jpg



In fact, compensated wind farm curtailment is a regular feature in parts of Germany where wind and PV power capacity has increased faster than either the distributed or the high voltage networks. An example can be viewed from the web page of distributed electricity operator Eon-Hansa. German renewable energy operators are protected by the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) and are fully compensated for the lost sales of actual power when curtailed, if not at the high level that was used in UK. The fraction of all renewable generation that is being curtailed – or is causing negative pricing in the spot market is now significant. Feed-in tariffs in Germany are subsidized by all electricity consumers. Many of these are already far from happy about rises in their electricity bills that clearly favour a small minority of citizens with such well-protected business interests; they are even less happy about paying for electricity that is not produced at all!

The EEG has been hugely successful in stimulating the growth of renewable energy capacity. At the end of 2010, Germany had 18 GW of PV, almost 28 GW of wind power and about 2 GW of biogas power plants. The EEG is currently being reviewed and it is expected that a new version of the law will be passed during 2012. The purpose of this is two-fold being to continue to nurture the use of renewable energy while reducing the negative impacts of highly intermittent power inputs on the system as a whole and on consumer prices in particular.

The Spanish grid operator Réd Eléctrica also has access to every wind turbine in the country and also, routinely, curtails wind power on the occasions when local networks are unable to cope with the increased loads.

In fact, increasing distribution and transmission capacity is both more difficult and more expensive than many are prepared to admit. Permits to upgrade overhead power lines or build new ones are difficult to obtain and can cause delays of many years.

One method for increasing renewable energy utilization in areas where there is a high penetration of renewable energy but a low capacity for increasing transmission and distribution is to install distributed storage. Aided by modern power electronics, such distributed storage can also deliver local and national balancing services as well as VAR support.

Transmission-level storage at high voltage is one of the main reasons why there is such a high wind power penetration with minimum curtailment in countries like Denmark (where Norway acts as its “wind power battery”) and Spain which has 23 GW of hydropower that balances renewables. But in the rest of Europe, only a very limited amount of new pumped storage can be built, so decentralized, distributed storage seems to fit in well with the new paradigm.

The question still remains how this can paid for. It is clear that distributed electricity storage provides a wide range of technical benefits to the electricity system has a whole. However, few jurisdictions which are legislating for a high penetration of renewable energy are prepared to recognize and compensate investors for new storage equipment. This is partly because, since liberalization during the 1990s their regulators cannot decide whether storage should fit in the system as “generation” or “transmission”. Regulators, tied down to obsolete legislation, do not seem able to see the big picture of how an electricity system must be optimized in the new paradigm of high renewable penetration. Fortunately California and Germany seem to moving towards recognizing that a high penetration of stochastic power inputs demands a response in high levels of storage and are legislating accordingly. Where they lead, the rest of the World is likely to follow.

Hugh Sharman is the owner of Denmark-based, Incoteco, EU Director for Marketing and Sales at Prudent Energy and the editor of Energy blog, DimWatt. Hugh graduated in civil engineering from Imperial College in 1962.

On 1st May 2011, London-based Renewable Energy Forum recently researched and published a story about the curtailment of Scottish wind farms during a wet and windy April weekend. This story caught the eye of editors at UK and international newspapers because they were compensated to the tune of almost £ one million at rates that seemed excessive.

9345422-300x184.jpg



In fact, compensated wind farm curtailment is a regular feature in parts of Germany where wind and PV power capacity has increased faster than either the distributed or the high voltage networks. An example can be viewed from the web page of distributed electricity operator Eon-Hansa. German renewable energy operators are protected by the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) and are fully compensated for the lost sales of actual power when curtailed, if not at the high level that was used in UK. The fraction of all renewable generation that is being curtailed – or is causing negative pricing in the spot market is now significant. Feed-in tariffs in Germany are subsidized by all electricity consumers. Many of these are already far from happy about rises in their electricity bills that clearly favour a small minority of citizens with such well-protected business interests; they are even less happy about paying for electricity that is not produced at all!

The EEG has been hugely successful in stimulating the growth of renewable energy capacity. At the end of 2010, Germany had 18 GW of PV, almost 28 GW of wind power and about 2 GW of biogas power plants. The EEG is currently being reviewed and it is expected that a new version of the law will be passed during 2012. The purpose of this is two-fold being to continue to nurture the use of renewable energy while reducing the negative impacts of highly intermittent power inputs on the system as a whole and on consumer prices in particular.

The Spanish grid operator Réd Eléctrica also has access to every wind turbine in the country and also, routinely, curtails wind power on the occasions when local networks are unable to cope with the increased loads.

In fact, increasing distribution and transmission capacity is both more difficult and more expensive than many are prepared to admit. Permits to upgrade overhead power lines or build new ones are difficult to obtain and can cause delays of many years.

One method for increasing renewable energy utilization in areas where there is a high penetration of renewable energy but a low capacity for increasing transmission and distribution is to install distributed storage. Aided by modern power electronics, such distributed storage can also deliver local and national balancing services as well as VAR support.

Transmission-level storage at high voltage is one of the main reasons why there is such a high wind power penetration with minimum curtailment in countries like Denmark (where Norway acts as its “wind power battery”) and Spain which has 23 GW of hydropower that balances renewables. But in the rest of Europe, only a very limited amount of new pumped storage can be built, so decentralized, distributed storage seems to fit in well with the new paradigm.

The question still remains how this can paid for. It is clear that distributed electricity storage provides a wide range of technical benefits to the electricity system has a whole. However, few jurisdictions which are legislating for a high penetration of renewable energy are prepared to recognize and compensate investors for new storage equipment. This is partly because, since liberalization during the 1990s their regulators cannot decide whether storage should fit in the system as “generation” or “transmission”. Regulators, tied down to obsolete legislation, do not seem able to see the big picture of how an electricity system must be optimized in the new paradigm of high renewable penetration. Fortunately California and Germany seem to moving towards recognizing that a high penetration of stochastic power inputs demands a response in high levels of storage and are legislating accordingly. Where they lead, the rest of the World is likely to follow.

Hugh Sharman is the owner of Denmark-based, Incoteco, EU Director for Marketing and Sales at Prudent Energy and the editor of Energy blog, DimWatt. Hugh graduated in civil engineering from Imperial College in 1962.

On 1st May 2011, London-based Renewable Energy Forum recently researched and published a story about the curtailment of Scottish wind farms during a wet and windy April weekend. This story caught the eye of editors at UK and international newspapers because they were compensated to the tune of almost £ one million at rates that seemed excessive.

9345422-300x184.jpg



In fact, compensated wind farm curtailment is a regular feature in parts of Germany where wind and PV power capacity has increased faster than either the distributed or the high voltage networks. An example can be viewed from the web page of distributed electricity operator Eon-Hansa. German renewable energy operators are protected by the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) and are fully compensated for the lost sales of actual power when curtailed, if not at the high level that was used in UK. The fraction of all renewable generation that is being curtailed – or is causing negative pricing in the spot market is now significant. Feed-in tariffs in Germany are subsidized by all electricity consumers. Many of these are already far from happy about rises in their electricity bills that clearly favour a small minority of citizens with such well-protected business interests; they are even less happy about paying for electricity that is not produced at all!

The EEG has been hugely successful in stimulating the growth of renewable energy capacity. At the end of 2010, Germany had 18 GW of PV, almost 28 GW of wind power and about 2 GW of biogas power plants. The EEG is currently being reviewed and it is expected that a new version of the law will be passed during 2012. The purpose of this is two-fold being to continue to nurture the use of renewable energy while reducing the negative impacts of highly intermittent power inputs on the system as a whole and on consumer prices in particular.

The Spanish grid operator Réd Eléctrica also has access to every wind turbine in the country and also, routinely, curtails wind power on the occasions when local networks are unable to cope with the increased loads.

In fact, increasing distribution and transmission capacity is both more difficult and more expensive than many are prepared to admit. Permits to upgrade overhead power lines or build new ones are difficult to obtain and can cause delays of many years.

One method for increasing renewable energy utilization in areas where there is a high penetration of renewable energy but a low capacity for increasing transmission and distribution is to install distributed storage. Aided by modern power electronics, such distributed storage can also deliver local and national balancing services as well as VAR support.

Transmission-level storage at high voltage is one of the main reasons why there is such a high wind power penetration with minimum curtailment in countries like Denmark (where Norway acts as its “wind power battery”) and Spain which has 23 GW of hydropower that balances renewables. But in the rest of Europe, only a very limited amount of new pumped storage can be built, so decentralized, distributed storage seems to fit in well with the new paradigm.

The question still remains how this can paid for. It is clear that distributed electricity storage provides a wide range of technical benefits to the electricity system has a whole. However, few jurisdictions which are legislating for a high penetration of renewable energy are prepared to recognize and compensate investors for new storage equipment. This is partly because, since liberalization during the 1990s their regulators cannot decide whether storage should fit in the system as “generation” or “transmission”. Regulators, tied down to obsolete legislation, do not seem able to see the big picture of how an electricity system must be optimized in the new paradigm of high renewable penetration. Fortunately California and Germany seem to moving towards recognizing that a high penetration of stochastic power inputs demands a response in high levels of storage and are legislating accordingly. Where they lead, the rest of the World is likely to follow.

Hugh Sharman is the owner of Denmark-based, Incoteco, EU Director for Marketing and Sales at Prudent Energy and the editor of Energy blog, DimWatt. Hugh graduated in civil engineering from Imperial College in 1962.

On 1st May 2011, London-based Renewable Energy Forum recently researched and published a story about the curtailment of Scottish wind farms during a wet and windy April weekend. This story caught the eye of editors at UK and international newspapers because they were compensated to the tune of almost £ one million at rates that seemed excessive.

9345422-300x184.jpg



In fact, compensated wind farm curtailment is a regular feature in parts of Germany where wind and PV power capacity has increased faster than either the distributed or the high voltage networks. An example can be viewed from the web page of distributed electricity operator Eon-Hansa. German renewable energy operators are protected by the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) and are fully compensated for the lost sales of actual power when curtailed, if not at the high level that was used in UK. The fraction of all renewable generation that is being curtailed – or is causing negative pricing in the spot market is now significant. Feed-in tariffs in Germany are subsidized by all electricity consumers. Many of these are already far from happy about rises in their electricity bills that clearly favour a small minority of citizens with such well-protected business interests; they are even less happy about paying for electricity that is not produced at all!

The EEG has been hugely successful in stimulating the growth of renewable energy capacity. At the end of 2010, Germany had 18 GW of PV, almost 28 GW of wind power and about 2 GW of biogas power plants. The EEG is currently being reviewed and it is expected that a new version of the law will be passed during 2012. The purpose of this is two-fold being to continue to nurture the use of renewable energy while reducing the negative impacts of highly intermittent power inputs on the system as a whole and on consumer prices in particular.

The Spanish grid operator Réd Eléctrica also has access to every wind turbine in the country and also, routinely, curtails wind power on the occasions when local networks are unable to cope with the increased loads.

In fact, increasing distribution and transmission capacity is both more difficult and more expensive than many are prepared to admit. Permits to upgrade overhead power lines or build new ones are difficult to obtain and can cause delays of many years.

One method for increasing renewable energy utilization in areas where there is a high penetration of renewable energy but a low capacity for increasing transmission and distribution is to install distributed storage. Aided by modern power electronics, such distributed storage can also deliver local and national balancing services as well as VAR support.

Transmission-level storage at high voltage is one of the main reasons why there is such a high wind power penetration with minimum curtailment in countries like Denmark (where Norway acts as its “wind power battery”) and Spain which has 23 GW of hydropower that balances renewables. But in the rest of Europe, only a very limited amount of new pumped storage can be built, so decentralized, distributed storage seems to fit in well with the new paradigm.

The question still remains how this can paid for. It is clear that distributed electricity storage provides a wide range of technical benefits to the electricity system has a whole. However, few jurisdictions which are legislating for a high penetration of renewable energy are prepared to recognize and compensate investors for new storage equipment. This is partly because, since liberalization during the 1990s their regulators cannot decide whether storage should fit in the system as “generation” or “transmission”. Regulators, tied down to obsolete legislation, do not seem able to see the big picture of how an electricity system must be optimized in the new paradigm of high renewable penetration. Fortunately California and Germany seem to moving towards recognizing that a high penetration of stochastic power inputs demands a response in high levels of storage and are legislating accordingly. Where they lead, the rest of the World is likely to follow.

Hugh Sharman is the owner of Denmark-based, Incoteco, EU Director for Marketing and Sales at Prudent Energy and the editor of Energy blog, DimWatt. Hugh graduated in civil engineering from Imperial College in 1962.

Full archive access is available to members only

Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.

Full archive access is available to members only

Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.