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Utilities move to levy charge for reactive power
1 October 1996
Two Danish utilities have decided to introduce an extra charge for grid connection -- DKK 142/kW installed -- because wind turbines do not contribute reactive power to the electricity network. From utility NOE, Bo Kock likens reactive power to the froth on beer. "It takes up space, but doesn't amount to anything." He explains that reactive power is normally acquired by distribution companies as part of the deal when they buy electricity from other generators. But this added benefit is not accrued by the distributor when buying from wind plant, even though wind turbines draw reactive power from the grid. For this reason the utility is levying an extra charge. Also utility SAEF is now to charge wind plant for reactive power. Ebbe Seligman of SAEF points out that all electrical apparatus needs reactive power in order to work, even though consumption of it is not normally charged separately. Outside Denmark, charging wind plant for reactive power is frequently standard practice. Utilities with wind power on their grids charge for the reactive power drawn from the system by wind turbines with fixed speed rotors for their magnetising power requirements. In Denmark, however, regulations governing grid connection of wind turbines do not specifically allow utilities to charge separately for reactive power, an argument being used by the wind turbine owners' association. The issue is now being reviewed by the energy ministry.
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