Wind energy is spreading its wings all over the world. More than 300 GW have been installed to date. Commercial activities are taking place in over 80 countries. Technology is available to face arctic climates as well as deserts, high wind speeds on coastal sites as well as inland lower ones, and we see installations both onshore as well as offshore. There is a new dimension of diversity, new challenges, new opportunities, a vast potential.
And one universal problem: the grid. In some places it simply has to be built. In others, it is just not up to the job of integrating large amounts of wind energy. Curtailment is severely affecting the Chinese and German markets. As wind is both a global and a local phenomenon, with electricity being generated on a large scale and in a decentralized way, the grid has to cope with a new dimension as well. Modernising the grid means building infrastructure that is capable of meeting the demands of the 21st century, the age of communication that does not work without electricity.
No communication without electrification. Long lines and large scale as well as small and smart. HVDC and smart grids. New management software to deal with an ever increasing intake of renewables instead of the old age of fossil fired or nuclear plants with a base load philosophy.
No transition without transmission. Recent reports published by the International Energy Agency not only highlight scenarios for a steadily increasing share of wind energy as a source of electricity generation but also deal with the new horizons that a modern grid offers. The grid is being designed and built, from Norway to the Netherlands and Germany, linking hydro power with offshore wind. There are plans for an East African corridor for renewables. In the USA the need for a reliable and modern grid will be stimulating investment on a large scale. And China is yet again the driving force. HVCD for thousands of kilometers, even 800 kV, but I suppose that the people best suited to build the Great Grid are the Chinese who build the Great Wall.
Enjoy the read,
Klaus Rave, GWEC Chairman