20 JULY 2022
Heat waves and renewable energies
The beginning of summer in Spain has brought a series of heat waves that have caused energy consumption to skyrocket, especially in the central hours of the day. Faced with heat peaks of this calibre... can renewable energy systems provide a response?
Renewable energies such as wind and solar are affected when extreme heat events occur, as these are associated with drought, low wind and high temperatures. Although the contribution of renewables to the grid decreases during heat waves, this does not mean that these sources do not contribute to achieving the decarbonisation targets set by the European Union.
Wind energy is one of the most affected during extreme heat phases, because less wind blows. Last Wednesday, 13 July, the contribution of generators was only 104Ghw, while days before the heatwave started the contribution was 246 GHw.
Although we see wind turbines shut down during the summer, this is not always due to a lack of wind, but rather to preventive maintenance, repair of faults or adverse environmental conditions. In addition, these shutdowns must sometimes be mandatory due to the technical restrictions of the grid, as the energy offered must be equal to the energy demanded.
In solar photovoltaics, the loss of heat output in the modules is known as the thermal coefficient. This is why, on sunny and cold winter days, the modules produce better yields. The location is something that is taken into account when designing plant installations, since when they are built, more peak power (panels) than nominal power (inverters) is installed to take into account these yield losses.
And… How does the heat affect our energy consumption?
In order to combat high temperatures, we tend to turn on the air conditioning more and for longer periods of time. This leads to an increase in electricity consumption and therefore to a greater saturation of the grid.
In our home, the increase in the price of the bill will depend on the appliance that is used to withstand the heat. For example, air conditioning is going to be responsible for the energy peak, since a 2200-frigorie appliance consumes an average of approximately 1350 watts per hour (Wh).
To avoid a very high bill this summer, it is advisable to use a combination of air conditioning and fans, to ensure that all the windows and doors in the house are well sealed and to lower the blinds during the hottest hours of the day.