BRUSSELS, Belgium, August 31, 2005 (Refocus Weekly) The wind energy industry in Spain has entered “a dynamic phase where the serious challenges that arise when wind energy becomes one of the main energy supply technologies need to be met,” says the European Wind Energy Association.
In 1997, Spain had 200 MW of turbines, but annual growth rates of 30% pushed the national capacity to 8,263 MW last year, moving into the global lead for the first time and edging out the previous leader, Germany. A previous government target of 13,000 MW of wind by 2010 has been updated to 20,000 MW by 2011.
The target would see wind supply 15% of national electricity, up from the current level of 6.5%.
“It is a fact, not an aspiration or green dream, that wind energy is on track to be amongst Spain’s leading energy supply technologies,” says Corin Millais of EWEA. “Installed wind capacity already exceeds nuclear and CCGT, and will this decade overtake coal and large hydro.”
“To dismiss wind energy as an expensive, niche green luxury, as many do, is to ignore
what has happened in Spain, the world’s number one wind market,” he adds. “The political drivers in Spain have largely been about economic development especially in the regions, creating jobs, competing in world markets, all against a background of surging energy demand, an increasing proportion of expensive energy imports, and recently a challenging Kyoto target.”
“On all these points, wind is a winning choice,” he says. “Spain is the destination of choice for anyone in the world interested in seeing wind energy working successfully.”
Current policy direction signals how an intermittent power source can be integrated into the electricity market in significant quantities, and predictability is the key to address intermittency at large penetration levels. To move towards 15% from wind will require a strategic grid framework, which currently is being developed in partnership with the transmission operators, utilities, wind players and regional governments.
More than 500 companies are involved in the Spanish wind industry, with 150 factories manufacturing turbines and components, and providing total employment of 30,000. This is estimated to double to 60,000 by 2010 on reaching the new government target.
“In the energy world with its seductive array of proposed solutions - from clean coal to carbon sequestration to nuclear fusion - what convinces most, and what wind delivers,
is proof, not promises,” says Millais.
The first legislation to support renewables in Spain was passed in 1997, and a new Electricity Act established a special regime for renewables with guaranteed access to the grid and a premium payment for generated power. Subsequent adaptations to the regulatory framework have “fine-tuned the payment mechanism,” linking it more closely to the wholesale electricity trading.
Initial development of Spanish wind power was in the southern province of Andalucia, followed by the northern regions of Galicia and Aragon, and then spreading to the central provinces of Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y Leon. Last year, the highest growth was in Castilla-La Mancha, where 732 MW of new capacity was installed, followed by Castilla y Leon, with 577 MW, Galicia with 512 MW, Aragon with 178 MW and Andalucia with 128 MW of turbines.
EWEA members include manufacturers responsible for 98% of the world wind market, with 230 members from 40 countries making it the world’s largest renewable energy association.
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