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Postcard from the future: 122% wind power in Denmark Into the Wind

Renewable electricity records are falling every day. In early October, Germany recently hit a 59 percent renewable peak, Colorado utility Xcel Energy peaked at 60 percent wind at the beginning of the year, and Spain got its top power supply from wind for three months leading into 2013.

But that’s chump change compared with Denmark. According to data from Energinet, the national grid operator, wind power has produced 30 percent of gross power consumption to date in 2013. This includes over 90 hours where wind produced more than all of Denmark’s electricity needs, peaking at 122 percent on October 28, at 2 a.m.

And Denmark has plans to get to 50 percent more wind by 2020, creating even bigger hourly peaks. Energinet predicts the country may hit as many as1,000 hours per year of power surplus.

To champions of renewables, this is validation that a clean energy future is possible and that the transition is already underway. These regions also give insight into what is to come in the U.S., and what needs to change to keep a reliable and affordable power system as clean energy grows.

Postcards from the future

As part of America’s Power Plan, we have developed a series of “postcards from the future,” describing places like Denmark that are already grappling with a high-renewables future.

Studies and real-world experience are underscoring that there are many tactics available to deal with the variability of wind and solar, and that these tactics are largely substitutes for each other.

While energy storage comes to mind first for many people, the truth is that the grid has functioned just fine with very little storage. Power system operators have to deal with variability all the time, with or without renewables. Demand fluctuates with the weather, time of day, social activities, and industrial operations. And supply varies unexpectedly too, such as when a power plant breaks down. The fluctuations of wind and solar, especially at moderate levels, are just one more variable–one that may or may not add to overall variability, depending on the system and timing.

More http://aweablog.org/blog/post/postcard-from-the-future-122-wind-power-in-denmark

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