Transmitting wind power big time

The political challenges of transporting huge amounts of wind power across several national borders appear to be far more daunting to mega-scale wind energy than the technical challenges. Gregor Czisch, of Germany's Institute for Solar Energy Technology, and Gregor Giebel, based at Denmark's national laboratory at Risø, have been looking at the potential for major wind installations in highly windy areas of the Asian, European and African continents and long distance transmission of the output into Europe.

The catchment areas for the study include northern Russia and western Siberia, Kazakhstan, southern Morocco, Mauritania and Norway. The aim of the wide geographical spread is to decrease the variability of generation and thereby the need for back-up generation or storage.

Their calculations showed that generation and transport could be economic. In southern Morocco wind power would cost just under EUR 0.03/kWh to generate and could be transported the 4400 kilometres to Kassel in Germany, for example, through a 5 GW high voltage direct current line that would add just EUR 0.015/kWh to the price.

The study's authors reported on their work at the recent European wind energy conference in Kassel.