New assessments by regulators and campaigners envisage renewables as mainstream power
July 27 - Several new analyses from energy regulators and renewables advocates make the case for treating renewable resources not as fringe or add-on sources of power generation but rather as part of the mainstream flow of electricity production.
Power generation from wind, for example, should no longer be treated as distinct from the rest of the electricity market, according to the findings of a public consultation published July 13 by the Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER).
In its consultation document on integrating wind into European electricity markets, launched in 2009, CEER said that "in addressing the issues associated with the market and network arrangements, it is preferable for wind generation to be integrated into the rest of the market."
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The regulators found that many respondents to the consultation explicitly agreed that "treating renewables as distinct from the rest of the market was no longer appropriate," according to a summary of feedback to the document.
Wind energy advocates agree. "We have and will have even higher levels of wind generation now in Europe and wind needs to be treated by regulators as a mainstream energy source," said Paul Wilczek, regulatory affairs advisor for grids and internal market for the European Wind Energy Association.
Respondents to the consultation described the impact that increasing wind generation will have on the markets as "substantial," "significant" and "severe."
The impact on security of supply was a concern for over half the respondents. Many said that increasing wind generation, which is variable in its supply, has made prices on the wholesale market more volatile, producing a fundamental impact on incentives to invest in conventional generation.
Many respondents said some change to the market would be necessary as a result of increased wind generation.
The regulators found broad support for intraday trading for capacity and balancing, with increased transparency suggested as a basis.
Several respondents focused on how best to encourage flexible generation. They argued that this will be increasingly necessary as the proportion of intermittent wind generation increases.
Flexible forms of energy management discussed include electricity storage and wind generation pooling.
Most respondents also called for transmission system operators to take the initiative in developing the network.
There was support for harmonizing gate-closure times across Europe, with many respondents saying one hour or less would be best.
There was also support for considering the level of information available in the market prior to gate-closure. But many said developing liquid and integrated cross-border intraday markets should take priority over shortening gate-closure time.
Almost all respondents said R&D is needed to address the network integration of wind generation, and they voiced strong support for TSO-led R&D to address security of supply and achievement of the European Union's 2020 renewables targets.
The consultation document did not cover all wind-integration topics, and EWEA said regulators need to acknowledge the contribution wind can make to security of supply as a fossil fuel-free source of domestic energy for EU members.
"We thought it was surprising that regulators weren't thinking out loud about this yet as we have a certain domestic disadvantage," Wilczek said. "The EU stands out as an energy intensive region heavily reliant on imports -- more than 50% of the EU's primary demand -- and additionally, the use of fossil fuel fired power plant."
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