Wind is a carbon-free source of energy. Addressing technical limits to wind energy deployments is linked to environmental security in as far as electricity generation is responsible for 25% of overall carbon emissions.
As a cost-competitive source of electricity, the integration of wind energy is challenging. Although progress is continuously made, no single country has been able to substitute more than 43% of its yearly power consumption with wind energy. Inherent risks to the stability of electric networks arise, when higher wind penetration rates are sought. Countries with successful wind strategies are gradually reaching these limits. As a result, developing countries with smaller grids and growing electricity needs may find it harder to adopt these technologies.
The intermittency of wind energy generation requires higher levels of flexibility in the management of electric networks. Different technologies can be pursued to increase the proportion of wind energy into a grid system. Besides optimizing the dispatching of large renewable power flows through HVDC technologies and the introduction of demand-side management features through smart grids, electricity storage represents the only alternative for an exclusive recourse on wind energy.
To avoid negative pricing -or payment for electricity uptake- during windy days when demand is low, operators in countries like Germany or Spain need sometimes to curtail wind power generation. As a result, wind electricity is lost to protect the systems stability. As these countries need to increase their wind power capacities to meet the European Union’s environmental targets for 2020, alternatives for storing electricity need to be found.
As the existing European power and distribution infrastructure is robust enough to support the charging of electric vehicles during off-peak time according to EURELECTRIC, additional storage capabilities can be derived. By increasing the flexibility of electric grids, harmful emissions from the transportation sector can be mitigated, particularly those pertaining to urban mobility where the issue of air quality is most critical.
Coupled as range-extenders to electro mobility applications, fuel cell vehicles powered by wind generated hydrogen have the lowest well-to-wheel CO2-emissions. Substituting limited petroleum fuel reserves burnt in low-efficiency internal combustion engines by green hydrogen derived from an enhanced access to intermittent renewable energies provides a paradigm shift in our relationship to natural resources.
By extending the renewable energy transition to the automotive industry through the introduction of state of the art technologies, climate change imperatives can be effectively addressed. As the transport sector alone is responsible for an additional 15% of global CO2 emissions, such a shift in the energy-transport nexus is most effective in limiting overall carbon emissions.
As Morocco holds 71% of the world's phosphate reserves -a key ingredient in the fertilizer industries- the development of sustainable hydrogen production technologies demonstrated in the Sahara Wind-Hydrogen Development Project opens new perspectives in the way renewable energies are being harnessed. For obvious hydrogen infrastructure and deployment issues, the automotive industry has not yet been able to shift significantly into these technologies. Hence, industrial applications such as the upgrading of fertilizers are currently the main end-users of hydrogen.