This is the main thrust of a submission by the Danish Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association to the European Commission. With modern technology for power system control, a decentralised energy system is more expedient for the 1990s, argues the association. Such a system would, in the long run, make fossil fuels no more than a "marginal element in the energy supply."
The Commission is currently preparing the first renewable energy strategy for Europe, due for presentation to national governments at the end of the year (Windpower Monthly, June 1997). A draft of the strategy, which proposes doubling the current share of renewables production from 6% to 12% by 2010, has so far received no more than a lukewarm reception from Europe's energy ministers (Windpower Monthly, July 1997).
The Danish wind industry, however, has branded the Commission's target as lacking in ambition. In advocating its target for renewables of 40% of total energy consumption, the association says wind could supply 10% of this, equal to 25% of Europe's electricity demand in 2035. The driving force for restructuring the current pattern of energy use should be to minimise the EU's dependence on imported fossil fuels. "Europe's degree of energy self sufficiency is declining from about 50% today to maybe only 30-35% in 2020," warns the industry.
Include market forces
In presenting its energy vision for Europe, the association stresses that account must be taken of the specific role each renewable should play to ensure efficient use of all of Europe's clean energy resources. "Support policies should not isolate the sector from market induced efficiency pressures. One solution is to ensure that the goals for each country's individual renewable energy quota is tradable across country borders. This is necessary because the renewable energy resources are unevenly distributed between the countries." The wind blows more in coastal regions, while the sun shines longer in the south of Europe.
The association further argues that uptake of renewables should be done in order of priority to take into account the economics of the different renewables and energy saving sources. As the most advanced renewable technology, "It is time to make a massive investment in the commercial utilisation of wind energy," argues the association. Such an investment would help reduce costs by up to 20% over the next ten years, while reductions of 50% are possible with mass production of wind turbines.
"We believe the EU's internal market can promote a more efficient use of energy resources. It is much easier to optimise the use of a fluctuating resource such as wind power in a large international energy system than in a smaller national system," the association further argues. It cites the huge potential of marrying wind with hydro power, where excess electricity from wind plant can be stored by using it to pump water for increasing reserves of hydro power. The potential of heat storage and heat pumps are also stressed. Lack of understanding of these options for increasing the potential of wind energy has led to the resource being vastly underestimated, says the association.