Thursday, November 12, 2009

Was it Lots of Wind or Lots of Hot Air in Spain Last Sunday Night?


Fast Fission Podcast #16 – mp3 file

Renewable energy supporters were spreading the word today that this past Sunday wind energy in Spain produced 53% of the country’s electrical demand.
The Spanish wind power industry broke a record on Sunday morning, when turbines nationwide met 53% of the nation's demand for electricity with production of around 10,170 megawatts (MW), according to La Asociacion Empresarial Eolica (AEE), the Spanish wind industry alliance.

This was certainly an achievement, but before we get too excited we need to read carefully and consider the situation. This was an intermittent peak in wind energy output that happened to achieve 53% of the electricity demand when the total demand was very low. This occurred during a 5 ½ hour window in the early morning hours of a Sunday morning in November. Everyone was asleep, there virtually no lighting load, no cooking, few factories were running, no air conditioning, and probably very little heat. As a result, total demand was relatively low.

Before we declare renewables a resounding success, take a look at a more telling statistic: the 11.5% overall contribution of wind to Spain’s grid during all of 2008. That means that day in and day out 88.5% of Spain’s electricity came from nuclear, gas, oil, and coal. Of that, the only carbon-free source was nuclear.

John Wheeler

1 comment:

Michael Ashcroft said...

Hi John,

I remember seeing this story and was wondering if this might be the case, but never got round to researching the details.

Let's face it, if 10GW is about 50% of the total, then the total couldn't have been the real total. Spain simply must use more than 20GW on a normal day.

That said, 11.5% contribution from renewables on average over a year is still impressive in itself, and even if some overzealous press officer released misleading information about an isolated event, the renewable infrastructure in Spain is still something to be applauded.

Good post!


P.S. I found your blog via the "next blog" button in blogger, in case you're interested!