One of the solutions that our Minister of Energy proposes for the energy transition is interconnectivity. In the webinar she gave at the end of 2020 (see previous post) she was pleased that Belgium got connected to the German grid and therefor could start to take advantage of the electricity produced by solar and wind in Germany. I am less optimistic about that. As I found in some previous posts like for example here, here and here, Belgium and Germany are neighbor countries and therefor have similar patterns of solar and wind production.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that no gains could be made by this interconnection. There will be times when Belgium could use the solar/wind overproduction of Germany, but when Germany has a excellent intermittent production, then generally Belgium does too. The same when Germany has only little intermittent production, then Belgium generally experience the same. The more intermittent capacity build in the two countries, the less Belgium will be able to take advantage of excess electricity production from intermittent energy sources.
This is however not the only interconnection that our Minister of Energy wants. A year after the webinar, she signed a memorandum of understanding (Dutch ahead) with Denmark to look into the possibility of a submarine power cable connecting Denmark with Belgium. That made me wonder whether this submarine cable would make it possible for Belgium to take advantage of Denmark’s excess intermittent electricity production and that is what I will look into this post.
In favor of Denmark is that it is not a neighbor of Belgium, so the pattern of solar and wind production might differ. But then, it isn’t that much distant either. It is situated just above Germany and close to the Netherlands:
This means that Denmark’s production of solar and wind might be pretty close to that of Germany and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, I have no data of energy production in Denmark, so I couldn’t look into this until now. There was however a post on Not A Of Lot People Know That, comparing energy production of several countries (as highlighted by Chris Morris in a comment on a previous post). This Not A Of Lot People Know That post was actually about natural gas use, but it was interesting to me because it also showed production of solar and wind) of several countries (among which Belgium and Denmark) from February 28, 2022 until March 4, 2022.
This is the graph depicting the Belgian electricity production:
And this is the same for Denmark:
There seems to be a huge production of Danish wind in the first third of the graph and the Belgian wind production seems rather lame in comparison, but notice the scale of both graphs. The y-axis of the Belgian graph is about twice that of the Denmark graph.
That makes it more difficult to compare both. For example, the production of wind in Belgium in the first third seems rather modest compared to Denmark, but when looking a bit closer then I becomes clear that the Belgian production is not that much lower than the Danish production. Belgian production at the start of the graph is between almost 6,000 MW to almost 8,000 MW, that is roughly 2,000 MW. Danish production at the start of the graph is between almost 2,000 MW to a tad above 4,000 MW, that is a bit more than 2,000 MW. That is much less difference than it seems from the graph.
To get an apple-to-apple comparison, I digitized both two graphs so I could put them in the same chart using the same y-axis. This is the result:
The electricity production from intermittent sources in Belgium and Denmark follow each other rather well. When Belgium has a high production of solar and wind, then Denmark also has a high production. When Belgium has a low production of solar and wind electricity, then Denmark has a low production of solar and wind too.
There is however one period (end of February 28 to beginning of March 1) when electricity production in Denmark was high and Belgian production was low. That is a moment when Belgium could profit from the excess production of Danish solar and wind electricity.
In the Not A Of Lot People Know That post, there were also graphs of the situation in Germany and the Netherlands. This is the comparison between Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands:
As expected, also solar and wind production of the Netherlands follows the same pattern as seen in the graph of Belgium. We have seen this playing out in some previous posts already.
Adding Germany to the mix, this is the result:
The electricity production of solar and wind in Germany is way bigger than Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands, but it also follows the same pattern. Production in Germany is highest when production is highest in Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. It is lowest when production in Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands is also the lowest.
Germany also has the same period where Denmark has high production while Belgium (and the Netherlands) experienced a low production, so if Belgium could use some electricity at that time, that could as well be imported from Germany, no need for a dedicated cable between Belgium and Denmark.
This is only a very small sample, but it again confirms that intermittent production in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands is pretty similar. This small sample also seems to show that intermittent production in Denmark is rather similar to Germany (they are neighbor countries after all), so it doesn’t have any complementarity that wasn’t there already.