In February 2020, electricity generation from wind energy set new records throughout Europe, as shown by calculations of the International Economic Forum for Renewable Energies (Internationales Wirtschaftsforum Regenerative Energien – IWR) based on data from European transmission system operators (TSOs). In Europe (still including the UK), almost 54,000GWh of wind power was fed into the grid (February 2019: 34,300GWh). In Germany, almost twice as much electricity was generated by wind turbines as in the same month of the previous year, with wind power exceeding the 20.000GWh mark for the first time in one month (February 2019: 10,800GWh).
Driven by the hurricane gusts of winter storm Sabine (Ciara in English speaking countries and Elsa in Scandinavia), the German wind turbines in the second week of February temporarily supplied almost 44GW of climate-friendly electricity to the grid and thus covered two thirds of Germany’s demand for electricity – whereas the German government has only set a target of 65% for 2030. However, the trend-setting wind power peak in Germany also has unpleasant side effects. Grid extension not always keeps pace with these quantities – mostly due to appeal procedures and approval processes – and hence sometimes more wind power is produced than some lines can handle. In such cases emergency measures are routinely taken by the TSOs as part of their congestion management and turbines have to be taken off the grid.
But TSOs also constantly improve their control and capacity management, e. g. 50Hertz, the TSO from the windy north-east of Germany. Between 6.30pm and 6.45pm, a wind feed of 16,270MW was registered in the TSO’s control area. At the same time, only 460MW (and thus a very small percentage) had to be throttled. Thanks to optimised grid control and capacity utilisation, most of the wind power generated was transmitted from the north to the south of Germany and almost completely used. By way of comparison, the previous record was set on 4 March 2019, when 16,217MW of wind energy was fed in, but at the same time around 1,300MW still had to be curtailed. Dr Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets and System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, comments on this success: “This exceptionally good ratio between feed-in and curtailment shows that the measures we have taken to increase the capacity and optimise our grid are having a positive effect.”