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Spain

Spain

Spanish wind energy production tops nuclear for the first time

SPAIN: During November, Spain's 17.5 MW of installed wind power met 21.2% of national electricity demand, beating monthly nuclear production for the first time.

AAE: wind power topped nuclear for the first time
AAE: wind power topped nuclear for the first time

Between 1 January and 9 December, wind sat as Spain’s third biggest generation technology (see table). National wind association, Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE) said it expected wind to finish the year in third place with 13.5-14% of production, up from 11% over 2008.

Over the same period nuclear power covered 19.5% of demand from an installed capacity of 7.7 GW, according to data from system operator Red Eléctrica de España (REE).

"We are very satisfied," said AEE’s commucations director Sergio de Otto. "It shows our massive efforts at integrating wind power are paying off and that there is still a lot of room for growth."

De Otto pointed out wind penetration levels have been boosted over 2009 by a slump in electricity demand due to the global economic downturn. In Spain, wind has must-run status, meaning that other types of plants must be taken offline if electricity supply exceeds demand.

If and when demand recovers along with the economy, there will be even more room for Spanish wind, said De Otto. Wind, with around 17.5 GW online, is on course to meet its 20.15 GW and 23 GW targets by 2010 and 2012, respectively. That is roughly halfway to the 40-45 GW deemed necessary to meet Spain’s target to get 35% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.

Between 1 January and 9 December, wind sat as Spain’s third biggest generation technology National wind association, AEE expected wind to finish the year in third place with 13.5-14% of production, up from 11% over 2008.

This is not pleasing everybody. In the five years up to mid-2008, growth in Spain’s wind capacity merely covered the country’s 4-5% annual increase in electricity demand.

But now, with demand dropping, wind generation, which has priority access to the grid above conventional power, is beginning to push large amounts of coal and gas power offline. As De Otto says: "Combined cycle gas generation was 15.75% down in what has gone of the year, compared to the same period in 2008; coal is 24% down."

That has sparked a frontal assault from gas and electricity utility Gas Natural, which not only supplies but also operates a large part of Spain’s combined cycle capacity.

Citing the annual costs of the electricity system, which currently includes EUR 4.8 billion for renewables production incentives (EUR 1.14 billion for wind), Gas Natural boss, Rafael Villaseca, calls for "a revision of the energy model, in part to reduce renewables subsidies".

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