Documents filed under Energy Policy from Denmark
A technical critique of Denmark's wind energy development and operation. A brief summary of the report appears below. The full report can be downloaded by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
Almost a fifth of the electricity produced annually in Denmark is generated by wind, yet only about 6% of the country’s electricity demand is satisfied directly from this source. Possibly two-thirds of its wind power output cannot be used to satisfy domestic needs at the moment of generation, and has to be exported (often at reduced prices) to preserve the integrity of the grid. Savings in carbon emissions are minimal. Public opposition and reduced subsidies have halted the deployment of on-shore wind turbines for the time being, but political and commercial interests are pressing to integrate much larger amounts of wind power into radically altered domestic and international transmission systems.
Rube Goldberg would admire the utter purity of the pretensions of wind technology in pursuit of a safer modern world, claiming to be saving the environment while wreaking havoc upon it. But even he might be astonished by the spin of wind industry spokesmen. Consider the comments made by the American Wind Industry Association.s Christina Real de Azua in the wake of the virtual nonperformance of California.s more than 13,000 wind turbines in mitigating the electricity crisis precipitated by last July.s .heat storm.. .You really don.t count on wind energy as capacity,. she said. .It is different from other technologies because it can.t be dispatched.. (84) The press reported her comments solemnly without question, without even a risible chortle. Because they perceive time to be running out on fossil fuels, and the lure of non-polluting wind power is so seductive, otherwise sensible people are promoting it at any cost, without investigating potential negative consequences-- and with no apparent knowledge of even recent environmental history or grid operations. Eventually, the pedal of wishful thinking and political demagoguery will meet the renitent metal of reality in the form of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (85) and public resistance, as it has in Denmark and Germany. Ironically, support for industrial wind energy because of a desire for reductions in fossil-fueled power and their polluting emissions leads ineluctably to nuclear power, particularly under pressure of relentlessly increasing demand for reliable electricity. Environmentalists who demand dependable power generation at minimum environmental risk should take care about what they wish for, more aware that, with Rube Goldberg machines, the desired outcome is unlikely to be achieved. Subsidies given to industrial wind technology divert resources that could otherwise support effective measures, while uninformed rhetoric on its behalf distracts from the discourse.and political action-- necessary for achieving more enlightened policy.
International Experience With Implementing Wind Energy examines the relative costs, advantages and disadvantages of wind generation. In addition, the report explores infrastructure issues, public attitudes toward wind development, and the various policy instruments used to support the development of wind energy in countries that are leaders in implementing wind energy.
The West Danish model clearly shows that the installation of large numbers of wind turbines can lead to severe and expensive problems with power transmission, and seriously degrade wildlife habitats and the aesthetic value of land- and seascapes for little or no reduction in carbon emissions. It is therefore imperative that energy conservation schemes and alternative sources of renewable energy are more thoroughly explored before large swathes of unique UK countryside and coastal scenery are lost to industrial wind stations. Conservation measures alone could reduce UK carbon emissions by 30% (Coppinger, 2003).
This working paper is made available by the Resource and Environmental economics and Policy Analysis (REPA) Research Group at the University of Victoria. REPA working papers have not been peer reviewed and contain preliminary research findings. They shall not be cited without the expressed written consent of the author(s). Editor's Note: The authors’ conclusion regarding ‘effective capacity’, i.e. the measure of a generator’s contribution to system reliability that is tied to meeting peak loads, is that it “is difficult to generalize, as it is a highly site-specific quantity determined by the correlation between wind resource and load” and that ‘values range from 26 % to 0% of rated capacity.” This conclusion is based, in part, on a 2003 study by the California Energy Commission that estimated that three wind farm aggregates- Altamont, San Gorgonio and Tehachpi, which collectively represent 75% of California’s deployed wind capacity- had relative capacity credits of 26.0%, 23.9% and 22.0% respectively. It is noteworthy that during California’s Summer ’06 energy crunch, as has been widely publicized in the press, wind power produced at 254.6 MW (10.2% of wind’s rated capacity of 2,500MW) at the time of peak demand (on July 24th) and over the preceding seven days (July 17-23) produced at 89.4 to 113.0 MW, averaging only 99.1 MW at the time of peak demand or just 4% of rated capacity.
"The global oil price rise in the 1970s prompted the Danish government to switch to imported coal for its thermal power stations and to start a wind energy programme targeted at generating 10% of electricity by 2000. The target was achieved and there are now 5500 wind turbines rated at 3000 MW—including the world’s two largest offshore wind farms at Nysted (Fig. 1) and Horns Rev— producing around 16% of national demand. This paper reports on performance data of the west Denmark power grid, to which 80% of the country’s wind power is connected. The east Denmark power grid is entirely separate but both grids are heavily interconnected to the national grids of neighbouring countries to the north and south."
This table shows the Danish emissions of greenhouse gases calculated in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. In 2003 Denmark has increased the emissions by 6.2% compared to the base year (1990) and by 7.3% compared to 2002.
If you really want to cut energy consumption, reduce pollution, improve public health and protect our environment, it’s time to contact your elected officials, educate them about the lessons of Denmark, Germany and elsewhere, and tell them you want tougher energy efficiency measures instead of wind power plants. Otherwise, in the next few years, you’ll be looking at wind turbines in some of your favorite places, with the knowledge that they’re doing little more than funneling your tax dollars to a few lucky corporations and landowners, and away from better solutions.
Denmark (population c. 5.4 million) is a leading pioneer in renewable energy. Since 1985 it has set up about 3,100 MW of wind capacity. Of this 420 MW are sited offshore (Nielsen, 2004), and more is planned for the near future (Bendtsen and Hedegaard, 2004). Over the same period many small gas- or bio-fuelled CHP plants were deployed, primarily for local district heating but also to produce electricity. Interest in solar power is also considerable.
Appearing in the July 2004 issue of "The Utilities Journal", author David White responds to Steffen Nielsen's article appearing in the May 2004 issue extolling the success of wind generators in Denmark. White contends that Nielsen tells only half the story by omitting many important aspects of the Danish program particularly the cost, annual availability and operability of wind generation. White concludes: "it makes no economic sense to progress an expensive and unpredictable power-generating technology in order to see a parallel carbon dioxide reduction goal when the evidence clearly indicates the objective will not be met."
During the 1990s, West Denmark experienced a revolution in its generating capacity. Wind capacity grew from almost nothing in the mid-1980s to more than 60% of peak, local consumption in 2002. Similarly, the electricity generating capacity of smaller, decentralized CHP grew from very small beginnings in the late 1980s to almost 50% of the six, central CHP power plants that supply all the major towns with district heating. In a single decade, the nominal generating capacity of West Denmark more or less doubled. In 2002, renewable, mostly wind energy supplied the equivalent of roughly 19% of West Denmark’s consumption. This will increase to 21%, or so, during 2003. There are about 2.7 million residents in West Denmark, so the number of wind generators per head of population is 1.74 machines per 1000 people. In the UK, this would amount to about 100,000. West Denmark is therefore the most intensely wind mill populated land on the planet.
With limited reserves of only oil and gas and the perceived onset of global warming, Denmark has a great incentive to develop new technologies for exploiting alternative sources of renewable energy and reducing energy demand. One of its many options is the harnessing of wind energy - a route that it has explored in great detail. This report describes some serious problems encountered in the extensive deployment of wind turbines in Denmark, and briefly summarises published accounts of the experiences and opinions of variously implicated Danish and foreign organisations and bodies.
This paper analyses aspects of environmental policy in Denmark, including, among others, policy on surface water quality, clean air and support for renewable energy, waste disposal and transport policy. Environmental policies are an important priority in Denmark, with implementation often highly decentralised, but in some cases environmental objectives have been pursued at what seems a high price, perhaps through a wish to support the development of a domestic industry or to protect existing industry from loss of competitiveness. The paper criticises some of the arguments used in favour of this high cost approach in a number of contexts, including wind power subsidies, the carbon tax and the treatment of nutrient discharges from agriculture. The paper also discusses a number of innovative and efficient policies introduced or planned, for example the new approach to promoting renewable energy (including wind power) through tradable “green certificates” and a CO2 trading scheme in electricity production. In some areas, such as policy for non-hazardous waste, apparent expansion of the role of economic instruments (through a series of differentiated taxes on disposal) seems to be dominated in practice by quantitative targets which may not provide the best outcomes.
Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in moving air into rotational energy, which in turn is converted to electricity. Since wind speeds vary from month to month and second to second, the amount of electricity wind can make varies constantly. Sometimes a wind turbine will make no power at all. This variability does affect the value of the wind power……Editor’s Note: This ‘fact sheet’ is, on the whole, a comparatively fair report. The definitions provided for capacity factor, efficiency, reliability, dispatchability, and availability are useful. Its discussion of back-up generation, marginal emissions and Germany & Denmark, however, is disingenuous as is, to a lesser degree, its discussion of capacity factor and availability. IWA's comments (updated October '06) on these issues follow selected extracts from the 'fact sheet' below.
This addresses the most important challenges confronting Eltra, the Transmission System Operator in Western Denmark.