More wind generation records have fallen as the cost continues to drop

February 2, 2013. More wind generation records have fallen in recent days, reflecting growing use around the world of this clean, reliable energy source.
 
This week, top billing goes to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the utility system serving most of the Lone Star State and saw a record January 29, when at one point wind generated a new high of 32.1 percent of electricity supply on the system. The hourly wind generation peak for the day was 8,667 megawatts (MW) (8.667 GW), setting a new record as well.
 
Next up: Spain, which accomplished something new and extraordinary in January, when wind power provided more of the country's electricity supply than any other energy source.
 
CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Co.) News quoted the Spanish wind energy association as saying wind generated 6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) during the month, or approximately 25 percent of the country's electricity.  The association also commented that the Spanish economy has "gained 3 euros for every 1 euro invested in incentives for wind farms" and that using fossil fuels to generate the same amount of electricity would have cost $406 million, the article said.
 
Finally, there is the UK, where wind generation on Sunday peaked at a new high of 5 GW, according to an article on the Commodities Now website.  That amount of power was 12 percent of the country's instantaneous demand, or enough to power 10 million homes. The article quoted RenewableUK Deputy Chief Executive Mat Smith: “This new record proves that Britain is generating an increasingly significant amount of clean electricity from wind. The quantity of low-carbon energy that wind is feeding into the grid is continuing to surge upwards. We’re set to generate 15 to 20% of the UK’s electricity from wind by 2020.
 
"As well as creating tens of thousands of green-collar jobs, and the wider environmental benefits, wind gives us another very important advantage – energy security. The UK can take control of the way we generate our power by using a secure, natural, local source of energy rather than relying on imports of expensive fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world."

It's worth noting that these wind generation records are being set without the utility systems involved experiencing reliability problems, thus making it clear that wind's variable generation can easily be accommodated on systems that already balance electricity supply with changing demand throughout the day and year. This story was printed on the AWEA blog

Renewable Energy World recently reported that electricity can be supplied from a new wind farm in Australia at a cost of A$80 ($84) per megawatt hour, compared with A$143 a megawatt hour from a new coal-fired power plant or A$116 from a new station powered by natural gas when the cost of carbon emissions is included, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. Coal-fired power stations built in the 1970s and 1980s can still produce power at a lower cost than that of wind, the research shows.

Relying on fossil fuels to produce electricity is getting more expensive because of the government's price on carbon emissions imposed last year, higher financing costs and rising natural gas prices, BNEF said. The cost of wind generation has fallen by 10 percent since 2011 on lower equipment expenses, while the cost of solar power has dropped by 29 percent.

"The fact that wind power is now cheaper than coal and gas in a country with some of the world's best fossil fuel resources shows that clean energy is a game changer which promises to turn the economics of power systems on its head," Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in a statement. Read the entire story here...