How technology is meeting some of the challenges posed by renewable energy

Something remarkable has happened. In the first half of 2020, for the first time, Europe generated most of its electricity from renewable sources: 40% of electricity produced vs. 34% from fossil fuels. Kristina Carlquist, ABB's Manager, Sales & Projects, Synchronous Condensers explains more in this article.

Five years ago, Europe generated twice as much electricity from coal as it did wind and solar, today, coal accounts for a small percentage of electricity generated.

The global trend towards net-zero is now inevitable – and rightly so!

However, this is not without challenges. This World Environment Day, it seems fitting to speak about (and celebrate) the green energy revolution and highlight how ABB technology is playing a critical role in making it happen.

We all acknowledge that changes are needed in the way we generate electricity to protect the environment, lower emissions and reduce our natural resource consumption. As renewable energy sources play an increasingly important role, the variable nature of this power poses challenges to power networks – which need to provide a stable, uninterrupted flow of electricity.

Step in Synchronous Condensers – my area of expertise. Synchronous Condensers – or SCs – play an important role in helping maintain the amount of voltage being delivered to any electrical network, or grid. At ABB, this is an area in which we are one of the global leaders, and I am proud – and excited – that one such example of this is moving to the next milestone.

ABB Synchronous Condenser
ABB Synchronous Condenser

Founded on October 1st, 1946, SEV is the main power producer and the only distributor in the Faroe Islands, an archipelago in the North Atlantic, about halfway between Norway and Iceland. Before SEV was founded, the Faroese had spent four decades trying, with various methods, to get electricity across the country.1

The 52,000 people who live in the Faroes already gain 50% of their electricity from renewable energy sources – mainly hydropower and wind,2 and by 2030, they aim to derive all electricity from green energy.3 Wind energy already plays – and will continue to play – an important role in helping the people achieve this aim.

To keep the stability of the grid when increasing the wind power and removing the older power production units, the Faroe Islands have worked with ABB on the installation of an SC at the Porkeri Wind Farm. This 6MW facility is situated in the island of Suðuroy, the southernmost island of the archipelago, this isolated grid is currently powered by hydro, thermal, solar and now wind power.

The SC will be making the 1,700km voyage to the Faroe Islands from Sweden later this summer! The SC is scheduled to be up and running by the end of 2021 and with the battery and a SC, 100% of demand could be met with wind energy in the right conditions.4

This has been a fantastic project to be involved with – helping SEV deliver greener energy to the people of the Faroe Islands. As countries around the world strive to lower their emissions and reach net zero through renewables, our industry will play a vital role.

As well as supporting the role out of renewables we must also continue to drive the innovation in energy efficiency, ensuring we can continue to walk down the pathway to Net-Zero in the most responsible way possible. I am proud of the work we are doing with our energy efficiency movement to help facilitate each part of this, ensuring we can deliver greener energy, reduce emissions and protect the world’s resources.

[1] https://www.sev.fo/english/about-us/history/

[2] https://norden.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1148260/FULLTEXT01.pdf

[3] https://unfccc.int/files/meetings/bonn_nov_2017/statements/application/pdf/denmark_cop23cmp13cma1-2_hls.pdf

[4] https://www.sev.fo/english/projects/battery-storage-and-synchronous-compensator/

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