In Spain, wind energy is supported by favorable wind

published on Monday 11 April 2022 at 08:50

Influx of investments and plethora of projects: In Spain, a favorable wind is blowing in the wind sector, which became the country’s main source of electricity last year. An asset at a time when the war in Ukraine has revived the debate on EU energy independence.

“Here we are on favorable ground,” assures Joaquin García Latorre, project manager at Enel Green Power España, pointing to the gigantic masts erected on the heights of Villar de los Navarros, a village of a hundred souls in the Zaragoza region (northeast ).

The Spanish-Italian group chose this well-exposed site to build one of the largest wind farms in the country: the Tico Wind Farm, consisting of 43 turbines with a total capacity of 180 megawatt-hours (MWh).

“This park entered the production phase in November” and will “be fully operational within a month,” explains Joaquin García Latorre, as workers work around these immense machines, culminating over a hundred meters in height. †

“There are between 2,500 and 3,000 hours of wind per year here. This means that we can produce almost 471 gigawatt hours (GWh) annually”, or “the equivalent of the consumption of 148,000 households”, adds the manager of ‘Enel.

From Galicia to the Basque Country via Andalusia, projects of this type have multiplied over several years in Spain, the second country in Europe behind Germany and the fifth country in the world in terms of installed wind energy.

According to the operator of the Spanish electricity grid, wind energy became the first source of electricity in the country last year with 23% against 21% for nuclear and 17% for gas.

“Wind power benefits from a favorable situation”, although there are still “inhibitors” in its development, heavily dependent on the auctions organized by the government, judge Francisco Valverde Sanchez, specialist in the sector at the firm Menta Energia.

After a boom in the early 2000s thanks to the granting of state aid, the sector came to an abrupt halt in 2013 after subsidies were cut in the midst of the economic crisis.

Since then, things have picked up again: Spain’s installed capacity, which houses a total of 1,265 wind farms, has increased from 23.4 gigawatts in 2018 to 28.1 gigawatts in 2021, according to the Spanish Association of Wind Companies (AEE).

– “Energy loft” –

Many sparsely populated areas, supportive legal framework, state-of-the-art industrial fabric… “Spain is currently one of the most interesting markets for investors,” emphasizes Juan Virgilio Márquez, Director General of the AEE.

Third world exporter of aero generators, the country is home to several heavyweights of renewable energy sources, such as Iberdrola or Naturgy. “This explains the dynamism of the sector” and the “appetite” it evokes, emphasizes Mr. Márquez.

An appetite that goes beyond just energy players: In November, Spanish multibillionaire Amancio Ortega, founder of Zara, injected 245 million euros into a park in the northeast of the country.

Will this momentum continue? In 2020, Madrid commits to increase the share of renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc.) in electricity to 74% by 2030, from 47% currently. This leads to the commissioning of 22 gigawatts in eight years.

To achieve this goal, the government is counting on the development of offshore wind energy, at this nascent stage, but for which Spain, with its thousands of kilometers of coastline, has great potential.

“This is an ambitious target,” which “needs to further leverage the sector,” notes Francisco Valverde Sanchez. According to him, this is only possible on the condition that “the bureaucracy”, which delays many files, is reduced.

According to the AEE, nearly 600 projects are currently under investigation by state services. As part of its economic response plan to the war in Ukraine, Madrid has pledged to speed up the process for projects under 75 MW.

Spain “has sufficient resources to become the first European country to produce and export renewable energies”, which is essential for the EU’s “energy independence”, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez insisted on Wednesday.

A message that has been relayed throughout the industry since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Spain has great wind potential (…) It could become Europe’s energy breadbasket,” sums up Juan Virgilio Márquez.

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