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Fluctuation worry sets back wind-generated electricity  

www.asahi.com

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Many regional electric utilities are reducing their purchases of clean wind-generated electricity because of concern over fluctuations in their electric power grids.

Analysts said the cutbacks will make it harder for the government to achieve its goal of raising the volume of wind power generation to 3 million kilowatts by the end of March 2011, a three-fold increase over the current level.

A range of companies have undertaken projects to generate wind power and sell it to regional electric utilities.

Touted as an alternative energy source that does not emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, wind power has spread quickly.

The combined capacity of wind power turbines nationwide broke the 1-million-kilowatt mark last fiscal year ended March.

Regional electric utilities, however, argue that a surge in the supply of wind-generated electricity could degenerate the quality of electricity.

Thermal and nuclear power stations can raise or lower the supply of electricity in accordance with fluctuations in demand.

The output of wind-generated electricity can widely vary, depending on wind velocity.

Therefore, introducing a large volume of wind-generated electricity into their power grids will make it harder to control supply and maintain electricity frequencies at stable levels, power companies said.

Unstable frequencies could cause malfunctions of electrical equipment, the utilities said.

Hokuriku Electric Power Co. limited new wind power purchases to 20,000 kilowatts from the current fiscal year.

The utility will hold a drawing today to select new suppliers because it received applications to sell more than 20,000 kilowatts.

Chugoku Electric Power Co., which did not impose a limit on new supply in fiscal 2005, has capped new purchases for this fiscal year at 50,000 kilowatts.

Shikoku Electric Power Co. will buy no new wind-generated power this fiscal year because electricity from current suppliers is already at the company’s upper limit of 200,000 kilowatts.

Some electric companies are taking new approaches.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co., for example, sought new suppliers for the current fiscal year only on condition that it will not purchase electricity at a time doing so poses a risk to its power grids.

Tohoku Electric Power Co. plans to buy about 55,000 kilowatts of wind-generated electricity on condition that suppliers store the power in batteries to stabilize supply.(IHT/Asahi: August 22,2006)

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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