You might think staying wind-free is impossible, but his absence from Europe proves otherwise. And it’s only going to get worse.
The wind has left Europe. As early as 2021, shortages hit northern countries hard, especially those most dependent on wind energy. Decarbonization is therefore an opportunity, but also a challenge, writes Frank Jacobs in a publication for Big Think.
In terms of energy, Europe is now between the hammer and the anvil: it needs so much and it has very little. Decarbonization is therefore not only an opportunity, but also a challenge.
Since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine, another worthy goal has emerged – for Europe to become independent of unfriendly foreign suppliers like Vladimir Putin and others. Geopolitical language you don’t want to meet on the street.
However, strategic insights come a bit late. Putin uses Russian energy supplies to Europe as a weapon in the conflict with Ukraine. Since Russia has significantly reduced oil and gas supplies to the EU and has demanded that they can never be relied on again, two things can happen.
First, in the short term, Europe will face what Germans are calling a “severe winter,” and less affluent Brits will have to choose, as the tabloids say, between “heating and eating.” Second, the European energy crisis may accelerate the emergence of a zero-carbon future in the long term. In most of these scenarios, wind and solar energy can play a large role.
However, both energy sources have the same problem: they can be renewable, but they are not sustainable. There are many days, but there is no sun or the wind is not blowing. Leaving aside solar energy, you might think that the wind doesn’t really matter because it all balances out in the end. But here comes our card that proves otherwise.
The fact is that the wind is not only unstable depending on the location, but also changes and changes over time.
The map shows European regions where the average wind speed last year was lower than in the period 1991-2020.
Some important points:
Dark blue marks large regions in the North Sea, Northern Scandinavia and Eastern Europe where wind speeds have decreased by 5-10%.
This also applies to small areas in Ireland, southern France and near the Czech-German border.
At the same time, the wind speed in the Balkans and Turkey has increased by 5-15%.
Wind speed reduction can have a significant impact on wind turbines operating in wind speeds between 14 and 90 kilometers per hour.
The wind is gone
Last year, the load ratio, ie the ratio of actual production to the theoretical maximum, fell by 13% in Germany and the UK and by 15-16% in Ireland and the Czech Republic, Les Echos said.
In 2021, wind scarcity has hit the Nordic countries hard, particularly those most dependent on wind energy: Denmark, which gets 44% of its energy from wind, and Ireland, where wind accounts for 31% of all energy production. Other European countries that are heavily dependent on wind energy are Portugal (26%), Spain (24%), Germany (23%), the United Kingdom (22%) and Sweden (19%). In France, which gets most of its energy from nuclear power plants, the share of such a source as wind is only 8%.
Danish energy company Ørsted lost 380 million euros on a drop in average wind speeds. Meanwhile, German energy company RWE reported a 38% drop in profits last year for both wind turbines and solar panels.
Impending wind shortage
Unfortunately for Europe, last year’s calm is unlikely to be an isolated event. In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts average wind speeds across Europe will fall by 6-8% by 2050. This will continue until the energy sector invests in powerful storage systems capable of storing excess energy generated at windy days, store and release when wind turbines are not working.
The issue will become increasingly important as wind’s share of Europe’s overall energy mix increases against a backdrop of steadily declining hydrocarbon-based power generation and a reluctance to fully utilize nuclear power.
Wind power generation in Europe has almost halved in the last two days. Interfax reports on Thursday, September 29, citing data from the WindEurope association.