The trend of energy usage from various energy sources in Spain tells that a revolution is growing. Merely looking at how development has moved in Spain, we see clearly that the increased consumption of energy has called for increased power generation over the years. In 2011, only 249.7TWh of 276.8TWh of the energy produced in Spain was consumed, and it was still a large amount.
Spain is currently populated by 47.1 million people, and each citizen relies on energy for their activities. Spain is the sixth-largest energy consumer in Europe and mostly has to import fuel. This is a result of the lack of abundant petroleum resources.
Generally, fossil fuel, wind, solar, nuclear, and hydroelectric energy sources are actively utilized in Spain. However, Spain is one of the countries that has started working actively to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Right from the early 2000s, Spain has been making efforts to focus more on renewable energy. While this is major because of the adverse effects of fossil fuels on the environment, it has also brought advancements in energy management and proper utilization.
The Growth of Renewable Energy in Spain.
To date, Spain keeps making progress in the production and use of renewable energy. For a country that used to import a lot of coal and release subsidies for the cause, the new changes have a great impact on the economy. Some highlights in the trend of events relating to renewable energy in Spain are listed below.
- The global recession in 2008 significantly reduced the power generation rate in Spain by 11%, yet the market keeps bouncing back.
- Significant progress has been made in the generation of power from renewable energy. On barely comparing 2016 and last year, we see the difference is clear. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, renewable energy generation in 2020 was 43.6% of gross electricity generation, which is an improvement from the 39% produced in 2016. In the newsletter by the Spanish grid operator – Red Electrica de Espana – it was recorded that this was the highest recorded so far.
- Wind energy has become a major part of the renewable energy sector, but solar photovoltaics are still coming up, despite the vastness of solar resources. Last year (2020), the reduction in overall power demand did not stop renewable energy sources from flourishing.
The Challenges Facing Renewable Energy Policies in Spain
Spain had set a target in 2014 to be met for renewable energy by 2020: 42.6% of total electricity generated. Moreover, in 2018, the goal has been increased to 70% by 2030. Consequently, the renewable energy regulations in Spain also say that emissions must be reduced by 20%.
Even with all of these bright sides, a major challenge to the effective use and implementation of renewable energy in Spain is the lack of resources, successive change in governments, and so much reliance on government as regards renewable energy. As governments change, policies have changed.
Despite the situation, the European Union approved a support scheme earlier this year to support energy-intensive companies in Spain. This scheme, which is set to run till December 2022, is a great investment. Their government would carry out more projects, and renewable energy will be of great benefit to the energy status of Spain. This was done under EU state aid, and it is truly of great help.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects and Initiatives in Spain.
These projects reflect a deep commitment to development and sustainability. Solar and wind power generation have the highest percentage of renewable energy in Spain. Some examples of projects and initiatives on each (solar and wind power) are highlighted below.
1. Total Solar Project in Spain
Total Energies is planning to thrive on the promising solar market in Spain. Total is currently planning to enter the solar market via partnerships. Two partners have agreed on the two gigawatts (2GW) solar projects – Powertis and Solarbay Renewable Energy. This project would make a great impact on the renewable energy sector of Spain.
The partnership between Total Solar International and Powertis is a 65%-35% one that would need Powertis to bring a pipeline of 800MW. This project started last year. Also, Total is obtaining all 1.2GW portfolio of projects by Solarbay. The projects are all to end by the latest 2023.
2. Wind Power Generation by Various Companies – Enel Green Power’s Wind Farm
Certain suppliers of wind energy in Spain (Gamesa Eólica, Alstom Wind, Acciona Energy, Iberdrolla, MTorres, and the rest) are still going strong in their operations. As of 2015, Spain became the fifth biggest wind power producer in the world. Producing up to 48,118 GWh of power from wind turbines that year, which formed 19% of the total power generated.
Enel Green Power is currently building a wind farm in Spain with an investment of €181 million ($220 million). This project would feature 43 wind turbines and can generate up to 471GWh of clean energy. The project aims to meet one of the major goals of renewable energy development – reducing carbon emissions. Consequently, when this project comes fully up by next year as we expect, it will offset up to 385,505 tonnes of carbon emissions. This is a big one for the progress of renewable energy in Spain.
For a study period of 2020-2026, experts have it that the CAGR of the renewable energy market in Spain would be more than 6%. This is a result of encouraging government policies and the need to reduce climate-damaging emissions.
Solar power installations are projected to be up to 30GW by 2030. This would be significant in moving renewable energy in Spain forward. Also, the market of offshore wind power has remained untapped and would give opportunities in the next ten years.
Optimistically, another projection for Spain is the tendency to outdo the predictions for renewable energy additions. Argus’ monitoring of proposed wind projects envisions a higher level of wind power generation in a few years.
Spain has come a long way and can fight through its challenges for the sake of improving renewable energy. From the generation of power to utilization, the energy stakeholders in Spain need to maximize available resources and smart grid technologies to meet up with the bright future catching up with the rest of the world.
Energy sources have metamorphosed throughout the history of technological innovations. The need to meet the demand requirements with supply targets has been top of mind for energy researchers and innovators.
Renewable energy sources have turned out to be the answer to balancing out energy needs worldwide. Carbon neutral sources such as sunlight, wind, geothermal heat and rain are perfect examples of renewable sources, while biomass fuels made from organic and animal matter such as wood, waste from farms and energy crops have a debatable carbon neutral status but still play a significant role in the renewable energy industry.
There are four primary areas where renewables are utilized: electricity production, heating and cooling, off-grid energy needs and transportation. In Germany, renewable energy sources are primarily based on wind, solar and biomass fuels.
Interesting Facts About Renewable Energy In Germany
Germany has gradually been phasing out its use of fossil fuels in the electricity sector, targeting to reduce the emissions used in this sector by nearly 60% by 2030. They are among the early adopters of renewable energy, going as far back as the 1990s.
In 2020, Germany’s gross electricity generation from renewable sources peaked at 251 terawatt-hours bringing it closer to becoming a major contributor to the European Union’s efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Although wind power is the primary source of renewable energy in Germany, offshore wind farms only recently contributed to this energy sector. On the other hand, Hydropower contributes the least to the energy generation sector in Germany with a steady decline from the 2000s. With the expansion of the wind energy sector, employment has also increased, leading to nearly 121,000 employees as of 2020.
This energy mix works well for Germany as it does not have to rely on only one source of renewables and can function adequately with the options at its disposal.
How Far Germany Has Come In The Renewable Energy Journey.
Energiewende is a compound word used to express Germany’s all-encompassing climate and energy strategy. The term is a combination of two words: energy and transition. It gained popularity after a book with the same name was published in the 1980s, outlining its exact meaning and reasons for adoption. It started as an approach involving energy efficiency, energy security, renewables and nuclear phaseout, with climate change coming in much later into the mix. Its success or failure, however, is constantly measured via carbon emissions counts. Germany has a target of cutting down its present emissions by 80 – 95%, below the levels seen in the 1990s.
Industries in Germany have not had the smoothest ride through this renewables roller coaster, but one sector that has given way for a new one is the coal sector. The structural transformation that took hold of the coal sector saw five times as many employees in the wind energy sector as coal, starting from the 2000s. With further data analysis, it was evident that roughly one in two employees of the energy sector works in renewables, that is almost 700,000 more people in the energy sector as compared to the early days of Energiewende.
Germany has acquired exponential growth in the wind energy sector, which accounted for 23.7 per cent of total electricity generated in 2020. The use of solar PV, which was at one point Europe’s largest solar market and the hydropower stations, which produced 18.7 billion kilowatts in 2020, is also part of this energy sector growth. They also stand as the fifth largest bioenergy capacity globally, with a cumulative installed capacity of biomass plants reaching 9,301 megawatts in 2020.
Favourable Renewable Energy Policies In Germany
In Germany, the market premium scheme is the major support for renewables. This type of scheme is characteristic of several EU countries.
Some support schemes are
- Feed-in-Tariff: this is a policy that guarantees above market price for producers. It works for power plants of up to 100 KW, where the amount of tariff is set by law and paid by the grid operator to the plant operators for 20 years.
- Tendering: these are competitive mechanisms for allocating financial support to renewable energy sources projects, usually based on the cost of electricity production. For Germany, onshore and offshore wind projects starting from 750 kW, solar projects starting from 750 kW, biomass plants starting from 150 kW and already existing biomass plants must be awarded in a tendering procedure.
Other policies include:
- Training programmes for Installers: Installers are trained in the art of renewables technologies in the framework of craftsmen training.
- Certification Programmes for RES installations: Plants must comply with the technical requirements by acquiring certificates depending on the particular technology to be connected to the grid.
- Exemplary role of public authorities: Public authorities must promote an exemplary role in carrying out their duties on renewable energy.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects In Germany
According to the European Energy Agency, within the EU, offshore wind energy production is expected to increase up to five times by 2040. In the German Baltic Sea, several projects are meant to be underway with a call for tenders to install renewable energy sources in three zones within the Baltic Sea, sent out by the German government on March 1 2021.
Other projects such as Borkum Riffgrund 3, a 900 MW offshore wind farm, is scheduled for operation in 2025, while the Kaskasi project will be commissioned by 2022.
Expert Projections On Renewable Energy Growth In Germany
Wind energy production could become the most crucial energy source in Europe by 2050, and Germany could produce 36 GW of this energy through offshore wind energy by 2050. However, with the closure of coal-fired power plants, Germany may have to increase this production rate to 50 GW to compensate for those closures. The general plan is to produce 20 GW by 2030 and increase that to 40 GW by 2040.
Despite having several renewable energy sources, Germany is focusing on wind energy to make sure it meets its set targets and the EU and Paris Agreement. These targets are ambitious but necessary in the long run. And we believe that by integrating smart grid technologies and powerful grid data analytics software, Germany is a step closer to achieving its targets more effectively.