Statement on wind power from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Pressemelding   •   jan 27, 2010 09:24 CET

The Royal Swedish Academy’s Energy Committee expects a massive expansion of wind power in the decades ahead. Globally, it looks set to rise from 260 TWh of electricity in 2008 to an estimated 5,000 TWh in 2050. This represents an annual average increase of 8%.

By 2050, wind power may account for 10% of electricity worldwide (against 1.3% today). At present wind electricity costs more to generate than conventional electrical power, but this will probably change.

Experience from Denmark, where wind power accounts for a relatively high proportion of the electricity mix, is enlightening. To date, Denmark’s surplus has been exported to Germany, Sweden and Norway at a loss. Extending continental, and perhaps intercontinental, transmission grids could improve this situation. The Danish experience also shows that the intermittency of wind makes it difficult to assimilate more than some 10% of the wind electricity into the national electricity system, even if the generated wind electricity is around 20%.

The problem of uneven wind conditions can be mitigated in several ways. Building wind farms that cover a larger area is one. Another is to erect wind turbines in favourable locations, especially offshore, with more constant wind strength. A third is to store energy somehow — through heat storage, water reservoirs, batteries and so on. Today, wind electricity partially replaces fossil power, which is used as back-up, i.e. to compensate for the lack of wind power when the wind drops. In the future, when wind power is expected to have a substantial share of the electricity market, CO2 emission-free electricity plants will be required for balancing the wind intermittency.

ATTACHMENT: Statement on wind power, 9 pages.

Erik Huss, Press officer
phone: +46-8-673 95 44, +46-70-673 96 50, e-mail: erik.huss@kva.se

Professor Sven Kullander, Chairman of the Energy Committee
phone: +46-8-673 97 05, +46-70-361 40 05, e-mail: sven.kullander@kva.se

M.D. Helena Ledmyr, Administrator/Communications officer of the Energy Committee
phone: +46-8-673 95 91, +46-70-693 08 08, e-mail: helena.ledmyr@kva.se

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, founded in 1739, is an independent organization whose overall objective is to promote the sciences and strengthen their influence in society. The Academy takes special responsibility for the natural sciences and mathematics, but endeavours to promote the exchange of ideas between various disciplines.