Integrating 265GW of wind into Europe’s grids by 2020 would slash €41.7 billion off the cost of electricity each year, according to a report published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

The EU pays the price for its outdated and poorly interconnected energy infrastructure, the European Commission said last week.

The report, Powering Europe, launched Wednesday at the GRIDS 2010 conference and exhibition in Berlin organized by EWEA, argues that there are no major technical barriers to integrating large amounts of fuel-free and pollution-free wind energy into Europe's electricity grid, but there are major economic benefits.

According to the report, infrastructure and markets are the two key barriers to significantly increasing the amount of wind power in Europe's power supply.

Europe needs upgraded and better connected grids with fair and effective competition in a truly internal European market in electricity to deliver the onshore and offshore wind energy from where it is produced to where it will be consumed.

A better interconnected grid will reduce 1,500-million euro’s per year in total operational costs of power generation, due to increased availability of all generation capacity.

This is a 'merit order' effect of EUR11 for every MWh produced, not just those MWh produced by wind turbines. And if our electricity markets are functioning, that is a saving that could be passed on to consumers, the report said.

A new offshore grid in Europe's Northern Seas as well as a number of improved interconnections across continental Europe will be needed to perceive the benefits.

HVDC cables are an attractive new technological option for long-distance electricity superhighways such as the offshore grid that is required in the near future, the report said.

The report also reveals that European power generation will have to be more flexible to take into account variable sources of power, such as wind and solar and smart grids will be needed to allow management of demand as well as improved management of supply, and largely national grids will have to be better interconnected.

This report is a very welcome publication with a clear view towards 2020, 2030 and 2050. Together with our Ten Year Network Development Plan, it helps building a common understanding on the major issues surrounding the integration of wind energy in the European grids,” said Daniel Dobbeni, President of ENTSO-E.