EWEA calls for 'Grid Harmonization'

EUROPEAN UNION - European countries need to standardize the way that wind turbines are connected to electricity grids in order to speed up the development and lower the cost of building wind farms.

According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), grid harmonization is vital due to the dramatic increase in wind power penetration across Europe. Increased harmonization will result in lower wind-energy production costs, contribute to an efficient management of the system, and lower the cost of electricity for consumers.

To help bring about these standards, the wind industry body has published a Generic Grid Code Format for wind generators. The goal of the code is to ensure that all stakeholders share the same understanding of the requirements for grid connection.

Currently, each country establishes its own technical specifications for power producers to connect to the electricity system.

"Wind power currently provides over 4% of the EU's electricity," said Paul Wilczek, EWEA's Regulatory Affairs Advisor.

"We expect wind power's share of electricity demand to increase from 4% in 2008 to 16% in 2020. In order to ensure that such future penetration levels are manageable from a technical perspective, it is important to develop clear rules across Europe.

"The way in which grid code requirements in Europe have developed has resulted in gross inefficiencies and additional costs for consumers, manufacturers and windfarm developers", added Wilczek. "Streamlining the functioning of the system through harmonization and greater transparency clearly creates a win-win situation for turbine manufacturers, developers and system operators."

The EWEA has welcomed the work carried out by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity for the EU on a pilot code for wind generation. The project is seen as a first step toward developing network codes across Europe. A first draft is expected to be published next spring. The EWEA is proposing a two-step approach to grid-connection standardization:

1.) A structural harmonization exercise, as proposed, with the aim of establishing a grid code template with common definitions, parameters, units and figures, as well as a common structure. To be followed by:

2.) A technical harmonization exercise, with the aim of adapting existing grid code parameters to the new grid code template.

In related news, the British Wind Energy Association has re-branded itself and will now be known as RenewableUK. The move reflects the industry body's role in covering the marine renewables industry also.

"The existing process began 18 months ago to find an identity and a brand to reflect the technologies that we are involved in, but to keep ourselves in the wind, wave and tidal sector," said chairman of RenewableUK, Adam Bruce. "We looked at a range of names and RenewableUK is a happy compromise."


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