Wind Power for Baseload Electricity

From Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman)

Wer baut auf Wind, baut auf Satans Erbarmen!

which translates roughly to

He who relies on the wind, relies in Satan’s mercy!

E.On’s 2004 Wind Report

In 2003, Germany again led the world in wind energy use thanks to the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). At the end of 2003, wind power plants with a total installed capacity of around 14,350 Megawatts (MW) fed German electricity grids. Of this, the greatest proportion at around 6,250 MW was connected in the E.ON control area.

For technical reasons, the intensive use of wind power in Germany is associated with significant operational challenges:

  • Only limited wind power is available. In order to cover electricity demands, traditional power station capacities must be maintained as so-called “shadow power stations” at a total level of more than 80 % of the installed wind energy capacity, so that the electricity consumption is also covered during economically difficult periods.
  • Only limited forecasting is possible for wind power infeed. If the wind power forecast differs from the actual infeed, the transmission system operator must cover the difference by utilising reserve capacity. This requires reserve capacities amounting to 50 to 60 % of the installed wind power capacity.
  • Holstein and Lower Saxony are precisely the places where the grids have now reached their capacity limits through wind power. At present, just under 300 km of new high-voltage and extra-high voltage lines are being planned there in order to create the transmission capacities required for transporting the wind power.


Simultaneous wind power infeed was maximum 4,980 MW, equivalent to just under 80 % of the installed capacity. The average fed-in capacity was less than one sixth of the wind power capacity installed in the yearly average.

Over half the year, the wind power fed-in was less than 11% of the wind power capacity installed in the yearly average.

Keep in mind that those installations are at prime sites. With optimum wind conditions.

Similar comments in their report in 2005 which adds:

According to grid studies by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena), wind power capacity in Germany is expected to increase to 48,000MW by 2020, around a threefold increase since 2004.

The possibility of integrating this generation capacity into the supply system remains to be seen. There is a need for considerable changes to the extra-HV grid alone, of around 2,700km. These measures will affect the whole of Germany, not only coastal areas.

Originally published on Facebook 2009-11-30
Header quote added 2013-08-02