Last week, the UK’s National Grid turned off wind farms in Scotland because the grid could not absorb the power being pumped through it.
That is the second time that this has had to happen in less than twelve months and, with turbines generating more than 3GW at any one point, it marks a milestone in the evolution of European wind.
However, it also serves as a wake up call for future European wind energy ambition.
Put bluntly, the turbines were switched off because the grid simply couldn’t find a use for the power and it couldn’t send it far and wide enough through the existing grid system. And that’s actually quite a problem.
In fact, it’s the reason why there’s been so much talk of a European super grid for the past twelve months and it’s the reason why the UK government has started putting electricity power sharing agreements in place with the likes of Ireland. However, there’s still too much talk and too little action.
With manufacturers and developers working hard to overcome a whole multitude of challenges associated with bringing a new farm online, there’s soon going to be additional capacity entering the European network. And each new farm will of course have its own power generating peaks and troughs. The real challenge therefore, is to ensure that other farms, located in other areas on the grid, iron out the electricity generating highs and lows that an individual location inevitably offers.
Hence all the talk of a European super grid. A great idea but at the moment, it’s still exactly that – a great idea. With new farms coming online every month, perhaps it is time, once again, to push forwards the agenda of the super grid? That way, we can avoid having to switch the revenue generating machines off.