Wind & Solar Chaos Leaves Europe’s Power Grid On Brink of Total Collapse

Germany led the way, and others soon followed: erratically delivered wind and solar now dominates Europe’s power grid. Naturally enough, power prices have rocketed and grid managers are left to deal with the chaos delivered by sunset and/or calm weather.

Rapid surges and/or collapses in voltage and frequency – consequent upon surges and collapses in wind and solar output – require instant and very costly ‘interventions’.

These interventions involve ramping up the output from conventional generators (gas or coal-fired plant) whenever the sun sets, the skies cloud up or the wind drops. Conversely, conventional plants are knocked off-line and forced to ramp down when solar and/or wind output picks up.

The additional cost to power consumers is staggering, and continues to mount.

Pierre Gosselin takes a look at the unfolding disaster, starting with Switzerland.

The Green Energies Of Instability…Swiss Power Grid Requires 200 Fold More Intervention Than 8 Years Ago!
No Tricks Zone
Pierre Gosselin
26 January 2019

Switzerland’s power grid operator, Swissgrid, seems to have its hands full nowadays.

Just less than 10 years ago, Switzerland’s power grid was among the most stable worldwide, operating with the same efficiency as its famous Swiss-made watches.

Today however, thanks to green energies like wind and sun, this is no longer the case, so reports the country’s Baseler Allgemeine Zeitung(BAZ).

According to the BAZ, “In 2011 Swissgrid, the operator of the Swiss electricity grid, only intervened twice in the electricity grid to prevent major problems.”

But last year, in order to keep the power supply stable, “these interventions reached a new record number with 382 interventions.”

In other words, on average more than once a day. Hence the article by the BAZ is titled: “The power grid is fluctuating like never before.”

The number of interventions needed to keep the Swiss power grid stable jumped from just 2 in 2011 to 382 last year, a new record.

 

The number of interventions needed to keep the Swiss power grid stable jumped from just 2 in 2011 to 382 last year, a new record. Chart source: Swissgrid, via BAZ.

Stabilizing the Swiss grid can mean throttling one or more of its dozen power plants, says the BAZ. Power fluctuations in the grid not only heighten the risk of overload and blackouts, but also threaten sensitive production equipment which rely on a steady supply of power for critical process control.

The BAZ adds that the problem is not only getting worse in Switzerland, but also in all the grids in neighboring countries, such Germany, France, Austria and Italy.

What’s the reason for all the instability? The BAZ reports:

With more and more electricity from the sun and wind, whose production depends on the weather changing at short notice, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure an even supply. The production of these renewable electricity producers is much higher than consumption in wind and sunshine, but too low at night and when there is no wind.

The BAZ also notes that Switzerland is sorely lacking in energy storage systems to balance out the peaks that are seen in sun and wind power production.

“Customers bearing the costs”
The Swiss daily also writes that the country’s power grid at times is so unstable that on July 2 (2018) alone, Swissgrid “had to throttle power plants eight times or have them started up so that grid operation was not endangered.”

In Switzerland, whenever a power plant is asked to throttle its power production in order to keep the green-energy-flooded grid stable, it is entitled to financial compensation. No problem here: The power consumers pick up the tab, reports the BAZ.

When asked why the grid has become increasingly unstable with each passing year, Swissgrid replied that it was “due to sun and wind energy”, the BAZ reports.

Europe dodged a bullet two weeks ago
Not only the Swiss power grid has been rickety and unstable, but so has the entire European grid, writes the BAZ. An example of this occurred recently, Swissgrid here reported in a press release:

A drop in frequency on the synchronously interconnected Continental Europe system was registered on 10 January 2019 at around 21.00.

The causes of this drop are still under investigation by the transmission system operators (TSOs) of ENTSO-E Regional Group Continental Europe.

A mismeasurement on lines between Germany and Austria was identified and corrected by TenneT Germany. However, this mismeasurement cannot explain the entire frequency drop on 10 January. The investigation, which is still on-going, is reviewing the significant variation in European production around 21.00 which coincided with changes in trade between different countries.

The frequency drop was sufficient to alert the TSOs but did not at any moment endanger security of supply.

TSOs of ENTSO-E Continental Europe Regional Group are taking collective actions to restore frequency as foreseen in such cases and continue their technical analysis of the incident.”
Next time Europeans may not be so lucky.

Unfortunately, it may just take a widespread blackout to get European leaders back to their senses. But even then, don’t count on it. Some policymakers are in fact insisting that the grid instability problems can be solved by “adding more wind and solar power.”
No Tricks Zone

Europe gets set for a New Dark Age.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. The problem here is frequency stability………an analogy.

    Imagine driving your car at a constant speed on a flat stretch of road. Your engine is the turbine (synchronise inertia) and the road is the load, your engine is maintaining constant revolutions per minute (50Hertz as in a turbine).

    If the road begins to incline (load increases) the RPM of your engine drops so you need to increase the petrol intake by your foot (GAS/COAL for a turbine).

    If the road declines (load reduces) the engine RPM will increase so you reduce the petrol intake…..

    A wind turbine rotates at a speed directly proporsional to wind speed not at a constant 50 hertz, this varying frequency is then synchronised to the grid frequency of 50 Hertz by converting it to a DC voltage (AC-DC) then DC-AC.

    You can buy wind turbines that produce 50 hertz but Australia dont have them.

    Scenario:

    Demand, or the LOAD on the network=1500MW
    Sources of generation are:
    GAS=600MW
    Coal=600MW
    Wind=300MW

    If the wind suddenly drops to say 100MW the load on coal and gas now increases causing the grid frequency to drop if it drops below 49.85Hertz the grid can collapse without intervention.

    If the wind suddenly picks up to say 500MW the load on the coal and gas decreases causing the grid frequency to increase, if the grid frequency icreases above 50.15Hertz the grid can collapse without intervention.

    The AEMO call this FCAS, frequency control auxillary services which normally cost the consumer very little because the grid was once very stable this is no longer the case, FCAS now adds an note worthy additional cost to the consumer. This situation will only get worse as the Swiss are now discovering.

    Note: Wind plants play no role in FCAS because they do not provide symchronise inertia, they are known as asynchronise inertia plants.

  2. Thanks to Keith Staff for forwarding the video link below…

    Infrasound caused by Industrial Wind Turbines

  3. Where are our engineers on this extremely important issue? These things are not ‘fit for purpose’!
    On top of this mess, we have people being harmed because of turbines being sited too close to peoples’ homes, and in some cases surrounding peoples’ homes.
    According to Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira, an expert in LFN and infrasound from turbines, there is potential for cumulative and irreversible neurological and vestibular harm. She has stated that knowing what she now knows, she would not live within 20 km from a wind turbine.

    • No self respecting Engineer with any commonsense would get involved in an Argument with the Lawyers and Doctors who now run Australia’s Electricity system. It’s a lot more financially productive to sit on the side lines and charge large amounts of money to attach bandaids to the unfolding disaster that will be coming in the near future. It reminds me of the 16th century when it was believed that the Earth was flat. Then when the Navigators sailed around the flat Earth they proved it was a Sphere. Now the young generations who have never known what it’s like to live without Electricity will have to go through the same learning process, It all goes to prove that the more you educate people the bigger fools and morons you end up with..

  4. Reblogged this on Conscious Energy.

  5. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  6. Serge Wright says:

    Solar panels are probably the worst form of energy for the grid, delivering maximum energy at midday when it’s not required and almost nothing after 5pm when it is required. A small amount of wind energy is possibly ok to help preserve “peak demand” hydro reserves, however this only helps if the wind blows regularly at peak demand periods. Any attemp to try and run a grid off these forms of energy alone is tantamount to mass murder, because mass deaths will surely follow.

  7. drgenenelson says:

    Power grids function most reliably and economically with dispatchable generation technologies such as large hydro, nuclear, natural-gas-fired or coal-fired generation. Inherently intermittent power from solar and wind forces the operators of dispatchable generators (typically with natural gas) to operate their generators in an inefficient, intermittent (stop-and-go) fashion. This causes emissions to be GREATER on a power grid with significant solar and wind penetration relative to the same power grid without solar or wind. This phenomenon is demonstrated on a much smaller scale by observing the lower miles per gallon (or kilometers per liter) of vehicles operated in a stop-and-go fashion on city streets relative to the essentially constant power demands of the same vehicle being driven on a freeway. Bentek showed this was the case in 2010 in Colorado when large amounts of wind generation were added. See: https://tinyurl.com/Bentek-2010

    • I think we are past this argument, are you trying to tell the readers that water is wet. Australia won’t have any of these European problems when the Labor party shift to 100% renewables the whole system will be backed up with batteries. Simple and very costly solution to a self inflicted disaster.

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