For those of you based anywhere north of Brussels, it won’t have escaped your notice that winter has arrived. That means a drop in temperatures, an increase in cloud, rain and snow and perhaps most important - plenty of wind.
Good news for the wind energy community then?
Certainly. Only, for some wind investors, developers and operators these conditions can create a bit of a glut. Something best exemplified in a high profile mechanical failure on Thursday (something the Daily Telegraph is getting far too excited about).
And that’s the catch. Because while a surplus of almost anything in life is a cause for celebration, right now in the electricity markets it presents a bit of a headache.
In simple terms, it is because electricity production and consumption must be matched precisely at all times – since surplus’ cause just as many blackouts as a shortage, so engineers say.
This, combined with this spat of publicity that last week’s turbine shut downs created, means that the pressure is on to tackle the root cause of future surplus and supply problems.
It’s why there’s such a focus on the rise and rise of the so-called European super grid - with initiatives such as Friends of the Supergrid already doing a cracking job of influencing EU public policy and rallying wider consumer support.
And that of course is the key.
The ability to unite the industry and the public under one banner and behind a single unifying cause is critical if Europe is to successfully tackle the energy transmission, surplus and supply challenge.
From an industry perspective, that means working together to address seven necessary steps associated with building a European super grid. Namely –
- Investing in the ports
- Tackling logistics
- Committing to construction
- Generating more power
- Increasing transmission capacity
- Getting better at governance
- And fostering future finance
As Andris PieBalgs, former European Commisioner for Energy has acknowledged, calculating these costs and putting a credible framework in place that can help facilitate this isn’t easy.
However, if Europe is to successfully transition, not just to sustainability, but towards long-term energy security and an independent Europe, then we’ve got to work together on this.
As the competition heats up and as the winter wind speeds rise, the evolution of the European clean energy markets are as much about transition as they are about transmission.