Renewables aggravate gas dependence


Most consumers in Europe are forced to subsidize wind energy with their electricity bills, because it is argued that this is an investment in a secure and sustainable energy future. However, growing evidence shows that the opposite might be true. Weather conditions in most parts of the world mean that wind energy is not capable of maintaining a continuous and reliable power supply. And gas turbines are the best back up for wind turbines. The two leading countries in the use of wind energy demonstrate that.

In Spain natural gas is still the main source of electricity with 99.8 percent of it imported. By the end of 2007, Spain had 14,700 megawatts (MW) of installed wind capacity producing 8.7 percent of the country's total power supplies. However, the peak load of the Spanish power grid is in the summer when there usually isn't much wind, so more and more gas turbines are being installed. In 2007, Spanish power providers added 6,400 MW of gas-turbine power capacity, taking the total installed capacity of gas turbines to 21,000 MW.

In Germany more than 20,000 wind turbines with a total capacity of 21,400 MW are now "embellishing" landscapes. Germany's gas consumption for power generation more than doubled between 1990 and 2007, and now represents 11.7 percent of the country's total power generation with the country importing 83 percent of its supply. However, part of the wind power backup is still done by coal-fired plants.

That's why wind energy makes Vladimir Putin smile...