(September 2016) Spain closes in on 50% renewables. Over the first eight months of this year, Spain averaged an impressive 47.2% renewable energy share in its generation mix. Breaking down the renewable share reveals Spain to have developed a strong mix of renewable generating capacity: wind power (21.8%), hydroelectric (17.8%), solar PV (3.4%), solar thermal (2.4%), other (1.8%). The remaining 52.8%of the generation mix was made up by a variety of non-renewables, including: nuclear power (23.2%) and coal (10.5%)  link



  • General information
  • Solar Power
  • Wind Power
  • Spain's drought problem

General information

2010 report: Spain has bolstered its credentials as a world leader in renewable energy by exporting electricity to France for the first time. Heavy rain and strong winds during 2010 meant that renewables - principally hydro, wind and solar power - met 35% of Spanish demand. In 2010, wind power rose by 18.5% and now meets 16% of Spain's energy. Heavy rains saw hydro-electrical production rise by 59% on 2009. Solar power, meanwhile, lags behind at only 3%, although some of the big solar plants have yet to come on stream. Oil and gas continue to generate about half of Spain's capacity, while nuclear power accounts for around 19%. link

March 2015: Spain gets the vast majority of its electricity from carbon-free sources. According to Red Electrica de Espana (REE), the Spanish peninsula got 69% of its electricity generation in March 2015 from technologies that produce zero carbon emissions, that is to say, renewable energy plus some of its nuclear power. Nuclear as a whole provided 23.8% of the country’s electricity in March, while 47% came solely from renewable sources. Though it currently only accounts for about 3% of electricity generation, Spain’s solar industry is one of the largest in the world. link
Solar Power

Overview of Spain's role in development of solar power.
Spain has an average 340 days of sunshine annually and its long-term goal had been to produce 400 megawatts of electricity from solar panels by 2010, and it reached that milestone by the end of 2007. In 2008 the nation connected 2.5 gigawatts of solar power onto its grid, more than quintupling its previous capacity and making it second only to Germany, the world leader. Half the solar power installed globally in 2008 was installed in Spain. In its haste to create a solar industry, Spain made some miscalculations: solar plants could be set up so quickly and easily that the rush into the industry was much faster than anticipated. Many of the hastily opened plants offered no hope of being cost-competitive with conventional power, being poorly designed or located where sunshine was inadequate, for example. The most robust Spanish solar companies survived the downturn, have restructured and are re-emerging as global players. For example, when the government changed course, Siliken Renewable Energy, originally a producer of solar panels, shut its factories for five months and cut its staff to 600 from 1,200. But after shifting its focus to external markets like Italy, France and the United States, and diversifying into solar support services, the company now turns a profit. “We were a company that banks trusted, so we could make the shift,” said Antonio Navarro, a company spokesman. “But a lot of little companies disappeared." link  

October 2015: Spain approves 'Sun Tax,' discriminates against solar PV. Spain's government has recently approved a new national law on self-consumption of energy that taxes solar installations disproportionately. Most notably, the majority of self-consumers will be also taxed for the electricity they generate and consume in their premises, via their own PV systems - link

May 2011: World’s first utility-scale CSP plant that using flat heliostats. Torresol Energy began operating the world’s first utility-scale concentrating solar power plant that uses flat heliostats and stores heat using molten salt, allowing it to sustain power through the night for around 25,000 homes in Seville, Spain. The 19.9-megawatt plant uses 2,650 flat mirrors called heliostats arranged over 185 hectares of land to heat molten salt. The heliostats focus sunlight on a tower where liquid is heated up to 900 degrees centigrade. It is then stored for later use at above 500 degrees centigrade in tanks beneath the tower. In total, the power plant avoids more than 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide. link

March 2011: Spain runs into solar problems. Spain had one of the world's most ambitious, and generous, plans to boost the amount of electricity it generates from the sun. That dream, for the solar industry at least, has turned sour. Generous subsidies have left Spain with 10 times the amount of solar PV capacity the government had planned for by 2010 - and a much bigger bill than it had envisioned. One point on which both the renewable lobby and the power industry agree: by taking the unprecedented step of retrospectively cutting subsidies promised to projects which have already been built, the government risks scaring off investors of all kinds.  link

Solar panels mandatory in new buildings. Spain wants to take advantage of its sunshine by making solar panels compulsory in new and renovated buildings - to save fuel costs and to improve the environment. The Industry Minister announced that starting in 2005 anyone who intends to build a home will be obliged to include solar panels in their plans, with the aim of turning Spain from a straggler to a European leader in the use of renewable energy. In 2006, Solar panels are now compulsory on all new and renovated buildings in Spain as part of the country’s efforts to bring its building rules up to date and curb growing demand for energy. link    

The Spanish government is committed to achieving a target of 12% of primary energy from renewable sources by 2010 with an installed solar generating capacity of 3,000 MW. September 2008 - Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian said in testimony to the Spanish Senate that the government expected the capacity of solar panels to expand to 10,000 MW by 2020. link  In March 2007, Europe's first commercial concentrating solar power tower plant was opened near the southern city of Seville producing 11 MW.  Abengoa Solar began commercial operation at its new PS20 (20 MW) solar power tower located near Seville April 2009.  link  A plant near Granada, known as Andasol 1, began operating November 2008 and now provides 50 megawatts of power, enough electricity to supply 50,000 to 60,000 homes year-round. Solar power plants Andasol 2 and 3 are under construction, with Andasol 2 in the start-up phase and Andasol 3 expected to be connected to the grid in 2011. The entire gross output of the plants will total 540GWh per year. link

Wind Power

At the close of 2014, installed wind power in Spain was 23GW, making Spain the fourth globally for installed wind following USA, Germany and China. link

January 2014: Wind power Spain’s top source of energy in 2013. Remarkable new figures from Spain's grid operator have revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from the country's power sector are likely to have fallen 23.1% in 2013 as power generation from wind farms and hydroelectric plants soared, and for the first time ever wind power contributed most to the annual electricity demand coverage. According to the figures, wind turbines met 21.1% of electricity demand on the Spanish peninsular, narrowly beating the region's fleet of nuclear reactors, which provided 21% of power. link

Spain's drought problems

May 2008. Spain’s drought: a glimpse of our future. In 2008, Barcelona was in the grip of a climate crisis on a scale never seen before in modern-day Europe, and this parched city was forced to import supplies from France.  The Catalan capital's weather can change from one day to the next, but its climate, like that of the whole Mediterranean region, is inexorably warming up and drying out.  link

Spain is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years.
The BBC reported in September 2008 that climate experts warn that the country is suffering badly from the impact of climate change and that the Sahara is slowly creeping north - into the Spanish mainland. link

Perhaps the most striking image of Spain's drought,, has been that of the underwater church which emerged from a drying dam: receding waters have exposed the 11th century church at Vic, north of Barcelona completely, 
Apart from the far north, the entire country is suffering; especially the parched areas on the
Mediterranean coast. The government is building more desalination plants, adding to the more than 900 already in Spain. However, Spain’s opposition party, supported by some environmentalists, say that the ambitious desalination plant program, with its huge energy needs, will only exacerbate CO2 problems. More than 70% of Spain's water goes on agriculture, much of it wasted on antiquated irrigation systems and the cultivation of thirsty crops unsuitable for arid lands. But few politicians seek confrontation with farmers already struggling to scratch a living. link

White roofs effects proven in southern Spain: The greenhouse effect may be heating the planet but a new study says Europe's driest spot, Almeria, Spain, is actually cooling ... thanks to greenhouses. A group of researchers at the University of Almeria found that the southern Spanish province had so many commercial greenhouses, seen from space as a white swathe across the arid province, that they reflected solar energy back into space. link


Spain is known for its wine, a country with more land under vines than any other. But if temperatures in Spain keep rising - and they have gone up by 2C on average in the past 50 years - the wines could taste very different and some vintages will be ruined. more

Spain's glaciers - now under threat.  Spain has lost 90% of its glaciers because of global warming, threatening drought as rivers dry up. While glaciers covered 3,300 hectares of land on the mountain range that divides Spain and France at the turn of the last century, only 390 hectares remain, according to Spain's environment ministry.  link


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