Wind shortage, wind turbines idle in 2021

According to the latest report from the Copernicus programme, wind speeds were particularly low in some European countries in 2021. Especially in Northern Europe, where a large number of wind turbines are installed.

Bad weather for wind turbines! Like last year in Europe, light wind has rarely happened. In 2021, in parts of the old continent, wind speeds were the lowest recorded for at least forty years. According to the latest report from the Copernicus space program, the European observatory responsible for collecting data on the planet’s position, finding such low levels, the first historical data to date, actually goes back to 1979.

In a region extending from Ireland and the United Kingdom to Denmark, Germany and the Czech Republic, passing through the North Sea, annual mean wind speeds in some places have been 10% below the average recorded in the reference period of 1991–2020. On the other hand, the Copernicus report specifies, stronger-than-average winds were recorded in the southeast of Europe, particularly in Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Balkans.

The mean annual and quarterly wind speed anomalies in 2021 compared to the reference period 1991–2020 are 100 m.
The mean annual and quarterly wind speed anomalies in 2021 compared to the reference period 1991–2020 are 100 m. © Copernicus

However, this situation is not without consequences for Europe’s energy supply. Countries that have had particularly low levels of wind speed are also the countries with the most developed wind power. Germany holds the largest production capacity on the continent and the United Kingdom ranks third on the podium. Off the coast of Denmark, 44% of whose consumption is met by wind turbines, the sea is covered by offshore farms.

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a fast monitoring indicator

For onshore wind, the average annual generation capacity in 2021 was about 13% lower in Germany and the UK than the annual average for the 1991–2020 period, and also reached 15% in Ireland and Czechia. For offshore wind power, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark had production capacity down about 9% from the same average. In the UK and Ireland it was less than 10%.

Annual wind capacity factor (CF) discrepancies by country in 2021 relative to the 1991–2020 baseline for onshore (left) and offshore (right) wind power generation.
Annual wind capacity factor (CF) discrepancies by country in 2021 relative to the 1991–2020 baseline for onshore (left) and offshore (right) wind power generation. © Copernicus

As Copernicus reports, a 10% reduction in wind speed results in a 27% drop in power from wind turbines—which, incidentally, is the minimum speed required to generate electricity. With the rise of wind power, as in France, the development of wind speed levels will become a closely monitored indicator. If such episodes repeat themselves, or even become the norm, this can affect their development.

Professionals in this field are confident, relying exclusively on technological improvements. “A wind turbine begins to produce electricity with winds around 10 km/h” and “as the wind can be predicted, network balancing is done without difficulty”, France’s spokesman for Energie Eolienne, Michel Gioria assured across, However, due to global warming, the wind speed in Europe may decrease in the future.

Jean-Baptiste Huet and Jeremy Bruno

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

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