Spain wants to triple wind and solar energy

by Lorraine Williamson
solar and wind energy

MADRID – Spain wants to increase its share of renewable energy in total electricity generation to 100% as soon as possible. Environmental authorities recently released more than 1,400 projects for new solar and wind farms. 

That is also badly needed. Because last year was particularly dry, hydroelectric power plants could not provide as much electricity as usual. Therefore, in order to meet energy demand, Spain had to burn more gas than it had done in a long time. Even the share of coal, which had almost disappeared from the Spanish electricity mix, rose again (from 1.9% to 2.8%. In the total balance sheet, the share of renewable energy fell from 46.6% to 42.2%. 

Furthermore, Spain is likely to experience another drought this year. After the dry and warm winter, this is already visible in various parts of Southern and Western Europe. In particular the water levels of the rivers or the soil moisture. 

Also read: Andalucia goes straight from winter to summer heat

Tripling of installed wind and solar power 

In recent months, the Spanish environmental authorities have approved numerous projects for new solar and wind farms. If they are all realised, the installed wind and solar capacity will triple over the next two and a half years to more than 103,000 megawatts. 

The enormous potential of renewable energy sources 

This brings the farewell to fossil energy production within reach. “With all the projects currently in the pipeline in Spain – including those that have not yet undergone an environmental impact assessment – we can meet all of Spain’s electricity needs and still electrify car traffic,” says Heikki Willstedt of the Association of Spanish Wind Energy Companies AEE. 

“But the expansion of and the demand for electricity from renewable sources must go hand in hand. Overcapacity also costs money. “There is a lot of unused land in Spain on which photovoltaic systems can be built. Moreover, these require considerably more space than wind turbines. These will in turn be placed in the sea as offshore wind farms. 

Related post: Subsidy schemes for solar panels in Spain for 2023 

Willstedt calls for coherent energy transition planning. With the completed environmental impact assessments of 182 large power stations (each over 50 megawatts) and 1,236 smaller ones, politicians have taken an important step towards the future. 

Solar energy will overtake wind energy in Spain 

However, it is quite certain that not all projects can be realised. This is also because the financing conditions are now worse than before. But, solar energy will almost certainly overtake wind energy in Spain; the newly planned solar power plants together have about five times the capacity of the planned wind farms. 

Related post: The impact of the EU’s energy efficiency plan on Spain 

Although photovoltaic systems take up considerably more space than wind turbines, they can be built profitably almost anywhere there is space in sunny Spain. There are also fewer conflicts regarding the protection of the landscape. Meanwhile the best, windiest spots for wind farms are already occupied. 

The cabinet has just designated alternative locations for offshore floating wind farms with the aim of having total electricity generation reach 100% as quickly as possible.

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