The Role of Wind Energy in the Europe Energy Balance
According to Morales Pedraza (2008), when analyzing the role of wind energy in Europe energy balance for the future, an important element need to be taken into account: Wind cannot be analyzed in isolation from the other components of the electricity system, and all systems differ. The size and the inherent flexibility of the power system are crucial aspects determining the system’s capability of accommodating a high amount of wind power.
Experience has shown that combining a diverse mix of creative demand and supply solutions allows large wind power penetration in an electricity grid with- out adverse effect. Three major trends have dominated the economics of grid-connected wind turbines in recent years:
• The turbines have grown larger and taller. The average capacity of all the turbines installed in Germany and Denmark increased from roughly 200 kW in 1990 to almost 1.5 MW during 2002;
• Turbine efficiency has increased. A mixture of taller turbines, improved components, and better sitting has resulted in an overall efficiency increase between 2 and 3 % annually over the last 15 years.
• Investment costs have decreased. The average cost per kW of installed wind power capacity varies from €900 to €1,100 per kW. The turbine comprises about 80 % of this total cost. The other principal cost element is operation and maintenance costs, including repairs and insurance, and this cost can account for 20–25 % of total production costs per kWh, at some €1.2 per kWh over the lifetime of the turbine. Manufacturers aim to shrink these costs significantly through development of new turbine designs requiring fewer regular service visits and, consequently, reduced downtime.