Building wind farms around the UK coastline will not do enough to smooth electricity output and prevent alarming spikes in energy prices, a leading Danish energy researcher said this week.
Paul Bach is the author of one of the studies that formed the basis of a recent report by consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff on future energy use.
This highlighted the limitations of wind power and the need for more conventional back up capacity (NCE 7 December 2009).
Bach’s study examined prices for wind generated power on the Danish-German border and concluded that wind farms in both countries were poorly integrated. He said relying on them led to steep rises in local energy prices during calm weather.
But his findings were disputed, and rival experts said the findings were irrelevant to the UK, which has more coastline and therefore has more likelihood of variable wind conditions.
“I consider the lack of information on UK wind energy output to be a problem.”
Bach said the feedback had prompted him to extend the range of his study to include the impact on energy prices of wind power across seven regions covered by the German and Danish national grids.
This made it easier to compare German and Danish experience with that of the UK, he said.
“I consider the lack of publicly available information on wind energy output in the UK to be a problem in the discussion on wind power integration in the UK,” he said.
Bach examined energy prices over a two-week period in 2007 when there was almost no wind on the German-Danish border. He said that energy prices in all areas rose sharply during calm weather conditions.
Bach said this meant backup power generation was essential if wind power was to have a significant role in power generation.
This created problems for countries which are trying to reduce their fossil fuel dependence.