EU backs the grid integration of wind power

As part of its drive to progressively introduce renewable energies, especially wind power, the European Union has presented the TWENTIES Project, the objective of which is to make significant advances in the development and roll-out of new technologies that facilitate the widespread integration of wind energy into the European electricity system.

This project will contribute greatly to the EU meeting its 2020 energy targets: a 20% cut in carbon dioxide emissions, a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, and 20% of energy demand covered by energy from renewable sources.

This pioneering proposal responds to the need to promote the introduction of these grid integration technologies into the electricity system, despite the fact that the R&D phase for some is practically complete.

The TWENTIES Project will run for three years and will have a budget of close to €62 million, €32 million of which will be provided by the European Union. It therefore represents the most ambitious project presented within the Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities.

Red Eléctrica de España, transmission system operator (TSO) of the Spanish electricity system, has been appointed to coordinate this initiative, which brings together 26 of the world’s leading companies and research institutions in the electricity sector.

This group’s aim will be to eliminate, through six demonstration facilities, the barriers to integrating more on and offshore wind energy into the electricity system, as well as to increase the support this type of generation can give to the electricity system.

The final objective is a full-scale demonstration of the benefits of these new technologies, the majority of which are linked to innovative approaches to the management of the electricity system.

Objectives of a cutting edge project

Spain, which is in a leading position with regard to renewable energies management, will present an ambitious demonstration project through IBERDROLA RENOVABLES.

More than 200 wind turbines with a total capacity of 500 megawatts (MW) will be safely connected to the electricity grid using a new method for controlling voltage and frequency at different levels of the electricity system.

This work will be jointly controlled by the control centres of IBERDROLA RENOVABLES (CORE) and Red Eléctrica de España (CECRE), the first centres of their kind anywhere in the world.

As part of the effort to confirm the contribution of this type of intermittent generation to the electricity system, the Danish company, Dong Energy, will demonstrate how to combine manageable demand with wind power generation under a favourable regulatory framework, in order to increase the security and efficiency of the electricity system.

Work to improve the flexibility of electricity transmission grids will be performed by two TSOs: the Belgian TSO, Elia, through sensors and control devices which will avoid possible large-scale instabilities caused by wind farms in the region; and the Spanish TSO, Red Eléctrica de España, which will apply alternative operational parameters that boost security and new energy flow control devices that optimise the grid’s ability to transfer the greatest amount of wind power possible.

The difficulties associated with offshore wind farms will be covered from the perspective of security. The French TSO, RTE, will perform a full-size demonstration of the critical control and protection devices needed to roll out an HDVC grid; while the Danish TSO,, will verify whether it is possible to balance generation losses during extreme weather events by adequately coordinating offshore wind farms with hydroelectric plants, located in this case in Norway.

The results of this work will be brought together in a report evaluating the potential impact of progressively applying the tested solutions identified as necessary for the European electricity system transmission grid by 2020, in line with the objectives of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan.