Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spanish wind power

The latest news is that Spain has wind power as it's main source of electricity. The second largest source is nuclear and the third is coal. This is due to some particularly windy weather recently, but Spain is also a world leader in both manufacture and installation of wind power systems.

Other countries should follow their lead. Wind power is very cheap once it's installed, there are minimal ongoing costs and when things go wrong the scope of the problem is very small (unlike nuclear power plants which have the potential to contaminate large areas).

Sorry no link, this news is too new to be indexed by google.


Jacobo said...

I'm afraid that this information is wrong, as can be seen in the electric balance from REE (the operator of the Spanish electric distribution network). For example, you can see yesterday's.

According to it, the main source of electricity in Spain is nuclear or coal, depending on the month (last month was nuclear, the one before was coal). Then come combined cycle, hydroelectric, wind, and, finally, fuel+gas.

Jacobo said...

Ah, now, on the 19th, wind power was the second largest source, just below nuclear. But, as you can see if you go backwards several days (the date in the URL is in European format), this is not the norm :)

Gunnar said...

This is surely interesting... However, I disagree with your Wind power is very cheap once it's installed statement. In a country where hurricanes strike, the places where you would most likely place eolic stations is exactly the places where you will end up rebuilding over and over ;-)

MamiyaOtaru said...

Extracting wind energy is not benign, as the energy is, well, extracted. Kinetic energy is removed, energy which then does not affect the environment as it would have otherwise. More simply put, it slows the wind, and whatever the wind might normally carry (moisture, hotter or cooler air etc).

Wind farms, especially ones large enough to provide a significant portion of our current energy "needs" may have an effect on the global climate.

Is the environmental effect worse than that of burning off fossil fuels? No idea (but I would guess not). At any rate, it's obviously not a panacea. The only sensible energy policy is to use less of it.

etbe said...

Jacobo: It was apparently the 20th of March when wind power exceeded other forms of power generation in Spain.

gunnar: Do you know of any studies of wind farms that have been hit by storms?

mamiyaotaru: The paper you cite says in the first paragraph that wind power would "deliver enormous global benefits by reducing emissions of CO2". Also note that while wind farms will increase drag the process of clearing land for farming has significantly decreased it. I expect that if wind farms were placed on all land that was cleared for farming (which incidentally would provide more electricity than we need) then the drag would still be less than it was before the land was cleared. In fact wind farms may help restore the natural balance by increasing drag!

Matthew Wright said...

Here's a plan I wrote to run Victoria Australia's electricity grid on 90% Wind power.

If you check out March 20th on the Grid operators website, they definitely got 27% of their electricity from wind generators.

They are also installing 2000MW new wind this year, which is more efficient plant than the average (draged down by the 20-30 year old plant)

This will mean they will go 27% and beyond constantly next year.

Matthew Wright said...

URL is actually
Near zero emissions stationary energy sector