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Wind Power
Figure1.CumulativeWindPowerInstalledinEurope,End-2008(MW)
EU-27=64,935MW
CandidateCountries=452MW
EFTA=442MW
powerispriced.Imaginetwo
Total:=65,933MW
Finland:143
Norway:428
scenarios; peak and trough Sweden:1,021
demand. During lower
Denmark:3,180
demand periods, the system UK
is at its least flexible, with 3,241
power supplied by baseload Estonia:78
Russia
plants. A surge of wind
Ireland Belgium:384
Latvia:27
11
power may simply result in
1,002 Netherlands:2,225
Lithuania:54
surplus power production,
sending prices towards zero.
Germany:23,903
In effect, it is as if the system
Poland:472
has too much baseload
Ukraine:90
generation plant that
Austria:995 Bulgaria:158
cannot be turned off quickly
France
Luxembourg:35 Croatia:18
enough, either for technical
3,404
Switzerland:14 CzechRep:150
or economic reasons.
Hungary:127
Theabilitytoexportmight
Romania:10
provide a key safety valve,
Slovakia:3
Portugal
but would depend on; first,
2,862
Spain
Italy
the physical infrastructure 16,740
3,736
Turkey
beinginplace;second,prices
433
falling below the external
Greece
system’s baseload prices;
985
Source: EWEA
and, third, the lack of a
similar wind surge in the external market, either as a result of The thorny issue of subsidies aside, adding an intermittent
different weather patterns or of less wind capacity in that energy source would act to reduce prices overall as wind adds
system. power but does not add reserve capacity. In so doing, it
At times of peak demand, the system is at its most flexible increases redundancy in peaking plant and reduces the profits
because the maximum amount of the most flexible power of baseload generation; potentially good for consumers but
generationcapacityisinuse.Awindsurgewouldlookasifthe bad for investment in non-intermittent sources of power, and
system had in effect much more flexible plant than it really presenting the risk of a decline in reserve capacity.
does. Prices would be shaved, but underpinned by a greater
ability to withdraw peaking capacity. ‘Back-up’NotRequired
So, in the low demand period, the impact on peaking plant The EWEA argues that, “because of the way the electricity
is negligible – they are not producing power anyway. The network is planned, there is no need to back up every
impactonbaseloadplantisprincipallyintermsofpricerather megawatt of wind energy with a megawatt of fossil fuel or
than generation displacement and therefore would not other power. All networks have enough spare capacity
necessarily result in carbon emissions available to deal with disconnections,
being avoided. Prices react as the ability
If wind energy is built to
breakdowns and sudden surges in
to withdraw capacity is low.
In the high demand period, baseload
meet growth in energy
demand.” That argument is fine, but
only because it assumes that sufficient
plants again suffer from lower prices
demand it implies a decline
reserve capacity and flexibility already
when the wind blows. Peaking plants
in reserve capacity
exists from non-intermittent sources.
experience either lower prices or However, if wind energy is built to meet
generate for shorter periods. growth in energy demand it implies a decline in reserve
This suggests that the principle result would be for wind to capacity. Wind can be added to a system if demand growth is
displace peaking plant, i.e. gas rather than more carbon- static or if non-intermittent sources also grow with demand.
intensive coal or low-carbon nuclear. The amount of “back-up” capacity is related to demand
worldPower2009 147
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