Spain wind power hits record, cut ordered

MADRID, March 5 (Reuters) - Spanish wind turbines provided record levels of power on Tuesday and the national grid said it had to order a cut in output to avoid becoming vulnerable to a sudden drop should the wind have stopped blowing.

The national grid, REE REE.MC, said it would ideally compensate for abrupt falls in the unpredictable supply from wind parks by importing energy from France, but current power lines did not have sufficient capacity to do this.

REE said that at 1453 GMT on Tuesday, wind generators provided 10,032 megawatts of power, or 28 percent of total demand. That beat a previous record of 9,563 MW set on 16 January, which accounted for 25 percent of demand at that time.

Combined cycle gas plants meanwhile satisfied 25 percent of demand, nuclear power 20 percent, coal 14 percent and hydroelectric stations just two percent.

The remaining 11 percent was accounted for by small producers supplying less than 50 MW from sources such as cogeneration or biomass.

Hydroelectric power has waned in recent months due to drought and the grid has become more dependent on wind parks.

Spain says it is the world’s second-biggest producer of wind energy and its power market has become particularly sensitive to fluctuations in wind.

REE said that several minutes before wind power hit a new peak it had ordered a cut in output to avoid a potential drop in voltage.

By mid-morning on Wednesday, wind power had eased to 7,492 MW and in recent days has dropped below 500 MW.

“If the drop in generation is greater than the capacity for interconnection of electricity with the European system, it entails a serious risk for the continuity of supply,” an REE statement said.

The grid said its decision underlined the need for a new power line to be built across the eastern Pyrenees, which would allow up to six percent of maximum installed capacity to flow to and from France.

Current cross-border power lines with France can provide just three percent of Spain’s installed capacity and the route for a new international line is due to be decided on in June.

The grid recalled that the European Union recommended a minimum interconnection capacity of 10 percent.

Spain usually exports power, mostly to Portugal, and REE forecast 41,500 MWh would leave the country on Wednesday. (Reporting by Martin Roberts; editing by Anthony Barker)