Denmark’s amazing wind energy achievement

I was sent an article on ‘Earth We are One’, about a day earlier this year where Denmark produced 140% of its energy requirements (for the day) from wind energy alone. (Link to the article)

After dropping this fact, the article mentions that this record beat a previous record of 116% of daily energy demand produced form wind energy.

What seems to have happened, is that there was a particularly windy day on the North Sea, and Denmark’s wind energy capture system was put to the test. Under this test, the system performed admirably, and Denmark was able to sell on their overproduced energy to other countries in the region (Sweden, Norway and Germany). From the article, it seems that Germany had already produced much of what it needed, so it used the energy from Denmark to raise water up, to be converted back into electricity at a later date (this is called pumped-storage hydroelectricity, and is a common answer to the “how do you store renewable energy?” question).

This really is a tremendous achievement for Denmark (another of the many energy achievements to be awarded to Scandinavia in general), and is being lauded by pro-renewable/anti-nuclear campaigners as proof that renewables can do it all.

While I agree that it’s an important demonstration of the power of wind farming, this alone is not a demonstration of the ability of renewable energy’s ability to do all of the energy generation we need. 140% is amazing, but what about all the other days where it didn’t reach 100%? What happens when you have a week of no wind at all (I know it’s unlikely, but just go with it). After that much time, surely the pumped-stored energy you have is gone, and you’ll have to turn to other forms of electricity.

I acknowledge freely that I am not an expert in electricity grid dynamics, but it seems to me this is not such a great victory, and it points to a certain willingness of the anti-nuclear movement to point at any little piece of exciting information and claim it as proof that renewables are all we need.

I would have had less of a point if this was in some alternate version of Australia where we take advantage of all the renewable resources that we have access to, with large solar arrays being more than able to cover any deficit in wind generation (as long as its a sunny day).

Say something controversial.

Matt

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