Third report in as many weeks comprehensively dismisses variability as obstacle to wind energy deployment

(BWEA) The third report in as many weeks to dismiss variability as an obstacle to large scale deployment of wind energy was published today by a coalition of environmental NGO’s. BWEA, the UK ’s leading renewable energy trade association, welcomed the findings of ‘Managing Variability’, which resonate with the conclusions of two other independent studies published in June this year by National Grid, and earlier in July by Poyry.

As strong evidence accumulated from grid operators across Europe that it is within existing technical capabilities to manage input from wind farms in real time, the report noted that “thermal plant breakdowns generally pose more of a threat to the stability of electricity networks than the relatively benign variations in the output of wind plant.” The report also noted that “contributions of up to 40% or more of electricity consumption can be managed with quantifiable – and modest - ‘variability costs’.”

Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive, said: “For some years now BWEA has been saying that managing variability is neither a major technological challenge, nor is it set to significantly impact consumer bills. In fact, added renewable energy capacity on the system will ensure against fossil fuel price volatility.”

The report quantified the total costs of variability to the electricity consumer at just £2 per MWh or 2% on electricity bills at penetration levels of 20%, with cost at £5 to £7 per MWh at deployment levels of 40%. The report also looks at further mitigating these costs by having increased demand-side management, as well as smart and super grid integration.

“This report is the final nail in the coffin of the myth of intermittency. We now need to move on and do more to have increased amounts of wind energy on the system, in as short a time as possible. As a source of energy wind is free and manageable. Integration costs will be more then offset by insuring ourselves from the inevitable rises in fossil fuel prices, and we could be looking at net savings as we deploy more wind,” concluded McCaffery.

BWEA is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with 509 corporate members, BWEA is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK . Wind has been the world's fastest growing renewable energy source for the last seven years, and this trend is expected to continue with falling costs of wind energy and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions to prevent climate change.

The report ‘Managing Variability’ is published by WWF-UK, RSPB, Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth EWNI.

Two reports covering wind variability and grid integration published in June and July 2009 are The National Grid document “Operating the system beyond 2020” and the Poyry report “Impact of intermittency: How wind variability could change the shape of the British and Irish electricity markets”.