Surplus wind power could power electric cars in Spain

Renewable energy is creating new challenges in Spain. Given that this type of power is unpredictable there are bound to be times when there is over production of power. This is exactly what happened last Sunday night when the wind from the hurricane that affected some parts of Spain got thousands of wind mills moving in a short space of time.

So much wind power was produced that the Electricity network had to disconnect a third of the wind mills. At 4 am on Sunday morning winds of up to 160 kilometres per hour hit Salou and nearby areas. This got a great number of wind mills moving and produced 1,500 megawatts per hour which is the equivalent to one and half nuclear power stations.

According to Miguel Duvisón, the head of the Spanish Electricity Network Operation (REE) there has never been a similar situation before. He said the problem was that at 7pm on a Sunday evening the demand for electricity was much lower than at other times during the week which meant that there was an oversupply of electricity.

At 7.20 pm wind power was supplying 28.9% of the network’s electricity which is a historic high.

Therefore 37% (2,792 megawatts) of wind power installations had to be disconnected – the equivalent to three nuclear power stations – until 9 am the next morning when demand for electricity went up again.

Duvisón regrets having to waste so much clean energy. He said the price of the wasted power was in the region of 200,000 euros and could have supplied two million homes with electricity.

Alberto Ceña, from the Wind Power Business Association has commented that Sunday’s disconnection was the biggest ever. He said that there are 15,000 megawatts of wind power installations which supply 10% of all electricity in Spain. He added that the government is planning to install up to 40,000 megawatts by 2020.

Experts in energy production and the chairman of REE all agree that new strategies are required in order to manage the volume of power being produced by renewable sources. He said new connections to France to transfer excess power and reversible dams were needed. These dams help use up excess power by using it to pump water into higher dams when a surge of power is produced. According to Duvisón without more reversible dams and pumps a great quantity of wind power will be wasted in the future.

The government together with energy experts are looking into the possibility of using wind power to move electric cars. The idea is to have a park of electric cars by wind power installations ready to accumulate excess wind power. The Ministry for Industry is currently working with Renault and Nissan on pilot projects in Spain given that electric cars contaminate less and are not dependant on non renewable sources of power.