Monday, August 27, 2012

Wind Dies Down as Solar Growth Accelerates

Being cheap, and a blogger, when I went searching for a data source of European statistics to analyse electricity sector characteristics, my preferred source quickly became ENTSO-E

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) provides data related to the operation of it's memeber TSOs, and much of the data is available via the data portal on their website.  ENTSO-E acknowledges the limitations of the TSO data, and it's members are to provide information to establish the 'representativity' of the received data to allow for the establishment of more reliable figures (see ENTSO-E .pdf on data issues).

The current data can be downloaded summarized by month, which I have done - and I have summarized that data on a 12-month running total basis.  The graph shows monthly figures as lines, with the scale on the left axis, and 12-month running totals as bars with the scale on the left (doc is here).  The data shows 12-month total wind production is now 2000GWh (2TWh) below the level of 36 months earlier, while solar production is up 15400 GWh at nearly 4 times the level of 36 months earlier - monthly solar production exceeded wind production in March, and the gap has continually widened since that time.

The data is so striking it is suspect.

I had previously checked ENTSO-E data for 2011 to a second source, the German AGEB, which seems to translate to "The Working Group on Energy Balances".  The final .pdf on this page provides figures that are close, although not exactly equal, to ENTSO-E's.
I recently saw a mid-year report from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Franhofer ISE) which provided different figures for both wind and solar - but the solar figures were about 10% higher (for the first 6 months of 2012), while the wind figures are 100% higher than in the ENTSO-E reporting.  The cited source for the Fraunhofer ISE report is the European Energy Exchange (EEX).
The EEX has something called a "transparency" platform that requires €600 to acquire historical data.  For me that means the data is worthless, but it certainly raises some interesting questions about the value of data, and the commitment of institutions to meet their reporting obligations with an existing platform when another platform offers payment for the data.

The Fraunhofer ISE report, Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany in 2012, may have far different figures than ENTSO-E for 2012, but the figures for 2011's first half are actually slightly lower than the ENTSO-E figures.  It seems to me that Germany needs to look into why it's reporting is, to be blunt, bad (they might even consider an energy department at some point - currently the responsibilities are split between environmental, and commercial, ministries).

Regardless, the Fraunhofer ISE/EEX data also shows monthly solar production exceeding monthly wind production, although not until May, then continuing in June and July.

I also pulled the data for the same period for Spain; another country often cited in discussions on renewables.  That data does not show the suspect decline in wind apparent in the Germany data, but it does show, over the past 3 years, growth of about 30% for wind production, and 300% for solar production.
The figures are similar to Germany's figures if we substitute the ENTSO-E data with the Fraunhofer ISE data for the first 6 months of 2012.  The trend look fairly obvious in the two countries..

The wind has died down.  If it's anything like the local weather this week, the wind isn't likely to come up again until some time after the sun's power has died down.


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