Wind power supporting the grid at EWEA 2015

As Wind's share of total power generation in many countries increases so the challenge of balancing variable supply with demand becomes more complex

Balancing variable supply and demand has always been a challenge but as wind’s share of total generation in many countries is growing, the challenge is also increasing.

The European market was in focus at the recent Wind Energy Denmark conference where I joined a panel discussion with a number of wind industry CEOs. There was general agreement that the industry is enjoying profitable growth but that it must prepare for the new challenge of energy market reform. Not only are wholesale electricity prices down but an auction mechanism will soon start replacing the support mechanism that is currently in place.

This reinforces the need for the wind industry to bring the LCOE (levelised cost of electricity) down. Offshore wind is busy doing its homework to reach the 100 EUR/MWh level. Onshore, wind is already the cheapest source of energy in a growing number of countries but grid parity must be reached.

As we travel this journey there are two opportunities that are coming across strong: collaboration and industrialization. This was one of the conclusions we agreed on in our panel at the conference with Dong, Siemens Wind Power, MHI Vestas and LM.

ABB is a strong believer in this approach. Component manufacturers, turbine manufacturers and operators need to join forces to develop next generation of turbines and share learnings from operation. Each one of us in the value chain has its own area of expertise. In ABB case it is power electronics, switching technologies, insulation material and automation. As we become a mature industry, transparency and collaboration becomes the new normal.

Industrialization is the other opportunity we need to grasp. As turbine OEMs are reducing the number of product platforms, component manufacturers need to bring their contribution. As almost all turbine manufacturers use our products, ABB is in a strong position to support standardization and develop corresponding economy of scale and industrialization.

Looking ahead, wind capacity is expected to more than triple by 2040, representing a share of about 12.6 percent in the total installed power capacity worldwide. Most of this growth is projected to take place in North America, Europe, China and India.

Wind integration is a major area of focus in Paris at both the EWEA 2015 conference and exhibition in November and at COP21, the United Nations’ Conference on Climate Change, in December.

Overall, the goal is to integrate and transport the fluctuating energy from wind farms while maintaining the stability of grid frequency and voltage. Better integration will prevent the loss of wind energy production through curtailment.

In response to the challenges, ABB supports its customers along the complete power value-chain from consulting, generation and connection to transmission, monitoring and control of wind farms, as well as maintenance and optimization.

Those wishing to join the discussion can register for the EWEA 2015 conference and exhibition in Paris on 17th to 20th November, where integration of wind energy is one of the top themes of the event, recognizing its growing importance.

Experts from ABB will be chairing or leading sessions on the latest thinking on how operators will integrate wind energy in the coming decades. Covering transmission technology, grid code compliance, enhanced control and energy storage, the sessions will provide a good overview of how to increase the penetration of wind.

Another major topic on the agenda at EWEA 2015 will be SolutionWind, EWEA’s industry-wide campaign to champion wind energy as a mature and mainstream industry.

EWEA will be promoting SolutionWind at COP21, the United Nations’ conference on climate change in Paris in December. The 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) will bring together more than 750 policy makers, industry CEOs and international thought leaders to talk about sustainable innovation in business.

As a prominent member of EWEA and a major player in the wind industry, ABB is shaping the future of power systems supporting the grid with more effective, sustainable and cleaner sources of energy.

I’ll be on hand at EWEA in Paris, November 17 to 20, 2015 (ABB at EWEA Annual Event 2015, Stand H11.) and look forward to discussing some of the ways we can help to integrate wind energy in the coming decades.

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About the author

Alfredo Parres

I am the head of ABB's Wind Industry Sector Initiative. Currently based in Spain, I am passionate about wind energy and the many opportunities it offers to transform the world. I have been active in the wind industry since 1999 in the areas of marketing, sales, business development and product management. Since 2013, I have been the chairman of the Renewable Energy Working Group at the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and now a board member of the WindEurope and chair of its Networks Working Group.
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