Wind power should flow smoothly through a European grid

The EWEA blog spoke to Michael Nørtoft Frydensbjerg from Siemens Wind Power who is chairing a session on 17 April aiming to uncover how wind power is driving the modernisation of European grids…

What are the limitations of the current EU grid and why does it need to change?

The electricity grid in Europe is mainly designed with an eye to distributing electricity from large power plants. Today power generation is more decentralised and large wind power plants are located away from traditional power plants. These changes in the power generation pattern have to be considered when designing the electricity grid in order to avoid bottlenecks and system collapse.

What, in brief, should the grid ‘look’ like by 2020?

In order to benefit from different wind conditions around Europe we need to be able to transfer power from one area to another – so we need a European grid without bottlenecks. In addition, a strong offshore grid will make it possible to build wind power plants where there are good wind conditions and transfer the power to the area where it is needed. Also, grid operating conditions have not changed much for many years – I think they should be reconsidered to better incorporate wind farms connected to the grid today.

Can you explain why HVDC (high voltage direct current) technology is important?

HVDC technology is relevant for different reasons: firstly it is a beneficial way to transport electrical power across long distances which is needed because the wind does not always blow where we need power. Furthermore there is a tendency against overhead lines that can be seen in the countryside, so many new lines will have to be underground cables. These cables can be AC (alternating current) cables but for longer distances AC cables have some technical limitations.

What are you looking forward to most about your session?

I look forward to hearing how European Transmission System Operators plan to develop the grid in the future to bring wind power online on a large scale. Furthermore it will be interesting to hear about the newest technologies from different grid component manufactures that will be needed to implement grid development plans and to connect offshore wind power plants.

What do you hope to get out of EWEA 2012?

Besides all the knowledge I will gain from the session I am chairing I also look forward to participating in other sessions to learn more. What happens between the sessions is, though, just as important as what happens in the sessions. Because then I meet both known and unknown colleagues from the wind business around the world and that often leads to interesting conversations/discussions.