Innovative solution to imbalance penalties -- Anglo-German co-operation combines landfill gas and wind

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German wind turbine manufacturer DeWind and landfill gas and embedded generator specialist Clarke Energy in England are launching an innovative approach to coping with the vagaries of the imbalance market which they expect will earn them 15% of the UK wind business within the next two years. By using embedded gas generation to firm-up the supply of variable wind power, the initiative is aimed at avoiding the crushing penalties that Britain's New Electricity Trading Arrangements (NETA) impose on wind for not being able to deliver exact amounts of electricity to a predetermined schedule.

Clarke Energy and DeWind are bullish about prospects in the UK, which they describe as a market about to open up. "We have set ambitious targets in line with the British government's commitment to renewable energy," says Clarke Energy's managing director Jim Clarke. "Thanks to the deal we expect to export 45 MW of wind generation capability to the UK in 2003 alone," adds DeWind's CEO Hugo Schippmann.

By trading a combination of wind and landfill gas the partners aim to deliver the firm power that NETA is designed for. Wind's variability does not add to the costs of power supply, yet the design of the imbalance market means wind generators face significant extra costs when selling their excess generation if they deviate from delivery schedules. Either they must sell excess supply at a loss, or if they fall short on a delivery promise, they must buy in expensive generation to make up the difference.

Caught in a scheduling vice, wind generators have no option but to sell and buy at the prices demanded of them -- or find a way to firm up the wind supply, as Clarke and DeWind are proposing. While seeing clear potential in a landfill gas and wind power portfolio, DeWind's Dietmar Gosch is nonetheless critical of the NETA structure. It would be "sensible" to amend the regulation, he feels.

Clarke Energy has until now focused on landfill gas and mains gas flexible generation plants as well as combined heat and power schemes, installing 500 MW of generating plant over the past five years. With the decision to get into the wind market, the company believes DeWind provides the "efficient state of the art technology" which it seeks to be associated with.

For its part, DeWind is convinced it has made "the right choice" with Clarke Energy. "We can only open up export markets with the help of competent local partners," says Schippman. "Our talks with Clarke Energy began early this year and we were impressed by the company's experience," adds Gosch, who is international key account manager. The deal with DeWind is not Clarke's first link-up with a company on the European mainland. It already has close relations with Jenbacher of Austria, a spark ignition reciprocating gas engine manufacturer, notes DeWind's Walter Delabar.

Joint developers

DeWind will supply nacelles, hubs, blades, technical support and wind farm planning, while Clarke Energy will take care of site identification and building consents as well as providing project infrastructure -- turbine towers, foundations, substations and cabling -- before handing over turnkey installations to customers. "Plans to provide a UK manufacturing base are on the agenda, to provide a competitive price for the DeWind wind energy converters in the UK adds Jim Clarke. Clarke Energy, which employs 120 people, will also provide operation and maintenance services for DeWind turbines in the UK.

From its Lübeck base, DeWind supplies 600 kW, 1 MW and 1.25 MW turbines and is adding a 2 MW machine to the range. This machine, the first of which will be installed this year, "may be of particular interest to the UK market," says Schippmann. Orders for 25 of the model have been secured for the German market, he adds. Over the past six years DeWind has installed 250 MW of wind plant and expects to have commissioned 120 MW in 2001 alone. The company employs 170 people, set to increase to 210 by mid 2002.

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