Spain’s wind energy success story

Vivian Hendrikse
In 2013, Spain became the first country in the world to have a renewable power as its primary source of energy. This renewable source was wind power, and provided 20.9 percent of the country’s energy needs of that year. Moreover, a total of 42.4 percent of all energy used originated from renewable sources, which includes wind, solar, and combined-cycle plant power [6]. Why was Spain one of the first European countries to successfully adapt its energy production to the threat of global warming, and therewith stimulate its renewable energy development? How has Spain’s wind energy developed ever since? In this blog, we will dive into the topic of wind energy in Spain, and provide answers to these questions.
 

The rise of renewable energy in Spain

Due to a general push for the use of renewable energy sources in the EU in 2009 [6], the Spanish energy organisation IDEA (Instituto para la Diversificación y Ahorro de la Energía) installed the National Renewable Energy Action Plan 2011-2020 (link) in 2010. In this plan, the organisation set goals for Spain with regard to overall energy usage, heating and cooling, electricity, and transport, which included a minimum percentage of energy generated from renewable sources for each category. Ever since, Spain has invested largely in renewable energy development. Of all renewable energy sources, both the development and success of one source in particular were increasing rapidly. This sources is wind energy. The potential of wind energy in Spain was discovered after one specific, particularly windy day in November 2011, when 59 percent of the nation’s power was produced by wind energy [4]. As this proved that Spain is not only sunny, but also windy, the developments of wind farms in the country were strongly stimulated by the national energy organization which led Spain to be the first nation ever to have wind energy, or any renewable energy, as its primary energy source in 2013 [6].
 

Current developments of wind energy

Since then, Spain has continued to develop its wind energy production and consequently maintained its position amongst the top four countries in the world (after China, USA and Germany) and as the number two in Europe [4] in terms of renewable energy production. Over the past decade, Spain has increased its renewable power by 53 percent which includes the generation of 61,925 gigawatts per hour of wind energy in 2017 (24.3% of the total year-average power usage, 252,755 GWh) [3]. These developments are not expected to slow down, as organisations are looking to invest 30,500 megawatts of new capacity to further support the integration of renewables. Enel Green Power, for example, acquired five wind farms in February 2018 with a total capacity of 132 MW. Moreover, the company identified 29 new wind projects that will allow for an additional capacity of 540 MW once installed, which is scheduled to be in 2019 [1]. Another example is the autonomous community government of Aragón, who authorised 1,778 MW of wind projects that were awarded in the May 2017 energy auction to be installed before the end of 2019 [5].
 

Effects on economy and future outlook

Recent data shows that in the first half of 2018, 45.8 percent of electricity in Spain came from renewable resources, of which the majority is generated by wind power [3]. Next to the positive impact of this rise of renewable energy sources on the environment, the increase in wind farms and wind energy development have stimulated the Spanish economy by creating more than 22,000 jobs. Considering the characteristics of the sector, and the increasing demand for renewable resources, the number of new jobs is expected to grow [3]. Moreover, Spain has obtained a top five position in worldwide exports of small wind turbines for domestic usage. Small wind turbines can be installed on the roofs of houses and can provide energy for a household [4]. The increasing popularity of these small turbines can boost the Spanish economy future as well, offering a positive outlook in the near future.
 

Sources:

 

[1] Enel Green Power (February 26, 2018), The Spanish Wind Energy Pushing Europe Forward, ENEL. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 30.08.2018]
[2] Tsvetomira Tsanova (December 29, 2017), Renewables Produce 33.7% of Spain’s Power in 2017, Renewables Now. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 28.08.2018]
[3] Bradley Stokes (July 15, 2018), Spain Takes Big Steps Towards Renewable Energy, The Olive Press. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed 29.08.2018]
[4] John Wolfendale (July 30, 2018), Is Wind Power in Spain Practical on a Domestic Scale?, Eco Vida Homes. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 30.08.2018]
[5] Lucas Morais (August 6, 2018), Spain’s Aragon Okays Construction of 1.78 GW of Wind Projects, Renewables Now. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 28.08.2018]
[6] Matthew Humphries (January 16, 2014), Spain Becomes First Country To Use Wind Power As Primary Source Of Energy, GEEK.com. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 30.08.2018]

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