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“The Unbearable Lightness of Wind” (EU update)

By Ross McCracken -- May 21, 2009

[Editor note: Ross McCracken is editor of Platts Energy Economist]

Where support mechanisms are sufficiently generous, wind power is racing ahead. In the European Union, where supported by feed-in tariffs in countries like Germany and Spain, wind power targets are very likely to be met, if not exceeded. Last year, more wind capacity was installed in the EU than any other energy source, for the first time outstripping even natural gas.

Wind has become the “market choice” because the technology is mature, bank lending is assured where prices are guaranteed, and the supply-side has been steadily ramping up production capacity. And wind is the only viable renewable that can deliver large amounts of installed capacity in the short term.

But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. As wind penetration increases, the pricing effects become more extreme, impacting the profitability of existing baseload and peaking power plant, albeit in different ways.…