Experts point out that it will be the energy source that will develop most in the coming decades.
Although many years of research and experimentation were needed, wind energy is currently a settled energy system. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), it will reach 14% of European electricity production in 2030 and will account for 60% of the total increase in electricity generation between 2006 and 2030.
Likewise, the IEA considers that wind will be the energy that is going to be developed in the world by 2050, if we want to achieve a sustainability scenario (the so-called BLUE scenario, which poses a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to the half). Thus, it estimates that the annual power to be installed until 2050 will be above 70,000 MW, of which 30% would correspond to offshore or offshore wind (well above the installation rate of recent years).
First thing first.
Wind energy, due to its prospects for cost reduction and the increase in fossil fuels, is one of the most economical options with the greatest development potential. Therefore, wind power could be very useful to meet the challenges posed by the current energy model in terms of energy security and climate change in a plausible scenario, of increased and greater volatility of fuel prices fossils.
Wind energy also represents important opportunities for generating added value and employment. The last report of the European Commission in this regard pointed out that only wind generated an added value to the European economy of more than 9 billion euros and almost 200,000 jobs, with increasing prospects, as shown to the wind as the renewable technology with the greatest growth potential until 2030 in EU 15 (42% of renewable growth will be wind).
The placement of wind turbines must comply with strict regulations to ensure the lowest possible environmental impact. In addition, the systematic control of its operation, through periodic reports, and its subsequent dismantling – they have a useful life of about 30 years – ensures that the necessary conditions for respecting the environment are met.
On the other hand, the design of modern wind turbines is making it possible to reduce their size, and as for another of the problems that most concern ecologists, their negative effects on birds, experts in this technology indicate that they end up getting used to their presence and dodge them like any other stumbling block they find in their path.
Despite these good expectations, the European Wind Energy Agency (EWEA) points out that the intermittent flow of generation to the grid is a difficulty that slows its development, although it is optimistic that it can be solved thanks to national and regional political support.
However, this challenge is perfectly acceptable and does not compromise the advantages of this technological option compared to conventional alternatives. The variability of wind energy, is mitigated by the great advances that are taking place in the prediction of production and the magnitude of the variation in its production, which can be faced with a certain degree of overcapacity such as that of the Spanish case and comparable to other factors that also introduce variability in the system (failures in conventional plants, fuel supply problems, etc.).
It will be essential that wind technology reaches full competitiveness in the market, and that the regulatory framework is established. It should also promote sustainable support frameworks, encourage efficiency improvements and cost reduction, and redefine energy planning to reconcile the promotion of renewables with safety and efficiency in the electrical system.
Wind power in Spain
Wind energy in Spain is one of the main renewable sources and its use is increasing, to the point that it is estimated that within ten years it will represent 15% of the energy consumed in this country. According to the Wind Business Association (AEE), the generation of electricity through wind power has reached up to 40% of the electricity demand at some times of the year. In addition, PREPA affirms that Spain was the country that starred in the world’s largest growth in wind energy over the past year, ranking second in the world, behind Germany.
The generation of electricity through wind energy has reached up to 40% of the electricity demand in Spain at some times of the year
With data from May 2009, Castilla-La Mancha leads the sector with 3,430 MW installed; followed by Galicia with 3,051 MW; Castilla y León, 2,927 MW; Aragon, 1,634 MW, and Andalusia, 1,572 MW. At the other end are Extremadura and Madrid, which lack wind power facilities.
The challenge of wind energy in Spain, in a context of growing international competition, is competitiveness, so that the added value generated by the growth of the sector throughout the world can be appropriated. According to the Iberdrola expert, the adoption of much more proactive approaches to technological development and cost reduction throughout the value chain will be necessary, with greater effort in terms of public and fundamentally private R&D.
Offshore wind power
The wind that blows in the seas can also be used to obtain energy as all Brits know. In fact, experts predict the most promising future for offshore power in wind power, since at sea the wind force is more stable and allows the placement of smaller wind turbines with a longer useful life.
According to a report by the Greenpeace environmental organization, offshore wind power could provide electricity to all European households in 2020, once 50,000 wind turbines were installed in the European seas, which would also allow the creation of three million jobs throughout Europe, the strengthening of the industrial fabric in depressed areas and, above all, obtaining electricity cheaper and cleaner than coal and nuclear energy.
Also, although the cost of installing wind turbines at sea is higher than inland areas, the development of its technology is leading to cost savings that make it increasingly competitive.
Denmark is the country that started offshore wind power and in its seas are currently the largest wind turbine parks, which allows to cover 50% of Danish family electricity consumption. In Spain there is no offshore wind farm, although there are several reserves that could be used, such as the Strait of Gibraltar, the Cape of Creus, the Ebro Delta or areas of the Galician coast. However, the Spanish coast is not, in general, very suitable for the great depth of its continental shelf.