Europe’s Wind-Heavy Power Grid At Grave Risk


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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Europe’s reliance on wind-generated energy might haunt the continent as a heat wave approaches and regional winds are expected to drop, the result likely being a sharp spike in energy prices.

Forecasts of rising temperatures could further beset ratepayers in Germany and the U.K., where wind farms are expected to grind to a halt next week amid a drop in wind. As residents turn up their air conditioning dial while the power grid experiences a sharp drop in supply, customers could be hit with much higher energy bills.

“The potent combination of low wind availability and a heat wave could lead to German power prices spiking, with utilities ramping output from higher-cost thermal power stations,” Elchin Mammadov, a London-based analyst, said in a Bloomberg report Friday.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, stands as the unquestioned world leader in wind energy development. The country has taken great strides in shifting from fossil fuels to renewables. Such a shift, however, hasn’t come without its share of problems.

Renewable technology is criticized for being unreliable and intermittent in its power production. Solar panels can’t generate power at night and wind turbines are only productive when the wind is blowing. Furthermore, renewable technology’s limits with energy storage has also been a challenge for the industry. The incoming energy shortfall in Europe due to a drop in wind is emblematic of theses problems. (RELATED: Germany Won’t Meet Its Global Warming Targets Despite Spending $200 Billion On Green Energy)

Germany has also struggled to meet its pollution reduction targets. Government officials announced Monday that it would not be reaching its goal of a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 — despite investing an estimated $200 billion on green energy initiates over the past 20 years.

“Britain and Germany show that despite the boom in renewables, Europe still needs conventional power plants and should prevent uncontrolled closures through capacity payments and other subsidies,” Mammadov added.

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