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Setting the scene

Wind energy penetration and integration

In this volume, we consider the large-scale integration of wind energy in the context that wind will provide a substantial share of the European electricity demand in the future. While wind energy will cover around 4% of electricity demand in 2008, EWEA targets for 2020 and 2030 estimate penetration levels of 14% and up to 28% respectively.  

Europe’s wind power resources are enormous and could easily cover a larger share of the electricity demand - even up to 100%. This is already the case in a few regions, notably Germany, Denmark and parts of Spain. The key issue is how to develop the future power system so that wind power can be integrated efficiently and economically. Since integration efforts, such as costs and decision making, are related directly to the penetration level of wind power, it is essential to have a commonly defined term. Wind energy penetration can be defined in a number of ways.

Wind energy penetration

This looks at the percentage of demand covered by wind energy in a certain region, normally on an annual basis (see Figure 1.1.) .

Wind energy penetration (%) = Total amount of wind energy produced (annually) (TWh)
  Gross annual electricity demand (TWh)

Wind power capacity penetration

This looks at how the total installed wind power capacity in a certain region is related to the peak load in this region, over a certain time period

Wind capacity penetration (%) = Installed wind power capacity (MW)
  Peak load (MW)


Maximum share of wind power

This looks at the power balance in a certain region, taking into account the minimum demand, the maximum wind power generated and the exchange with neighbouring regions or countries. This figure must remain below 100% to ensure the correct power balance in the region; the nearer to 100%, the closer the system is to its limits (when wind power would need to be curtailed).

Maximum share of wind power  = Maximum wind power generated (MW)
  Minimum load (MW) + power exchange capacity (MW


Throughout this Part 2: Grid Integration, when reference is made to wind power penetration, definition A will be used unless specified otherwise.

As shown in Figure 1.1., the wind energy penetration levels vary throughout Europe. For the EU-27 the overall penetration in 2020 will be around 12-14% according to present EWEA and EC targets.


Figure 1.1 Overview of wind energy penetration levels in Europe at end 2007 (EWEA, 2008)

The table below shows the wind power capacity penetration values (definition B), at the beginning of 2007 for a number of countries in the UCTE area. These values are related to the reference load, as set out in the UCTE System Adequacy Forecast (January 2007). The installed wind power capacity refers to the situation at the end of 2006.

  Reference Load (GW) Wind Power Capacity (GW) Capacity Penetration
W Denmark 3.8 2.5 66%
Germany 74.0 20.6 28%
Spain 43.0 11.6 27%
Portugal 8.5 1.7 20%
Netherlands 16.1 1.6 10%
France 80.0 1.6 2%

Table 1.1. Wind power capacity penetrations in various European countries

The maximum share of wind power (definition C) is already high in certain areas of Europe, for example West Denmark (57%) and the German state of Schleswig Holstein (44%); but the system can currently absorb additional wind power, before it reaches full capacity. However, with increasing amounts of wind power installed, improvements are required in the power exchange capacities between various countries. This will be discussed in more detail further in this volume.

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