Today I have a short but interesting report from Spiegel.de here concerning the performance of North Sea wind parks, which were once seen as the future backbone of Germany’s energy supply. Unfortunately things are not working out that way at all.
Photo right: Bard
Delivering only a tiny fraction of rated capacity
Spiegel writes that Germany now has some 3000 megawatts of North Sea offshore installed rated capacity, but which at times “delivers only single or double digit megawatts” and that “it does not fulfill the hopes of a reliable energy supply“. Spiegel writes that on one Tuesday morning in mid December the “total power fed-in dropped to just a single megawatt” (0.033% of rated capacity!)…”enough to supply only a few hundred households“.
Oh my, what a stunning efficiency.
Dogged by engineering woes, shoddy planning
Germany’s drive to offshore wind energy has been dogged by multiple technical problems and shoddy planning. Even when the wind does blow, the cross-country power transmission needed to deliver the power to markets still have not been constructed, and so it is impossible to deliver the generated power where it is needed (if needed). Wind parks operators are often ordered to shut down their turbines in order to prevent grid overloads. Also read here.
Wild output fluctuations
Spiegel writes that mid-December was not the first time that offshore power output fell to just a tiny fraction of rated capacity, and the flagship news weekly describes how the offshore wind power output has been fluctuating wildly this fall:
On a total of 25 of 91 days wind energy production in part on many occasions fell into the single or double digit megawatt range. On the evening of November 11, the most power was fed in with 2631 megawatts. Grid operator Tennet had to compensate by switching on and off conventional power plants.”
Offshore wind power was once regarded as a viable solution for providing consistent power because it was often claimed that “the wind is always blowing offshore“. However harsh conditions, unpredictable weather, complex installation and high maintenance needs have made the cost of offshore power twice as expensive as the landscape-eyesore onshore wind energy, which also fluctuates wildly and poses other technical and health problems in addition.
It’s time to face the reality that harnessing offshore wind energy in the tempestuous North Sea is technically and economically unfeasible and thus can be only a very limited solution when it comes to energy supply.