Interconnection showdown with Spain and France

EUROPE: A showdown between Spain's prime minister Mariano Rajoy and French president Francois Hollande spurred largely by wind power, is widely predicted for this week's EU Brussels summit, 23-24 October.

Rajoy will threaten to withhold support for an EU energy agreement to 2030, unless France lifts protectionist obstacles to long-planned power interconnectors across the Pyrenees, according to diplomatic leaks to the Spanish press. Spain's energy ministry did not respond to inquiries.

Spain is practically an energy island, capable of transmitting just 1400MW, or the equivalent around 1.5% of combined generating capacity (105GW), with the rest of Europe, through France. The EU average is 8%.

Forced to balance variable power demand and output internally, large parts of Spain's 23GW wind capacity can suffer curtailment during low demand, in order to keep non-variable nuclear online.

The Spanish government will reportedly call for a 15% minimum interconnection capacity across all 28 member states. Ongoing work to double the French connector by next year is expected to be slammed as too little too late.

Spanish wind association AEE believes wind is discriminated against when curtailment is needed. While it supports the general concept of improving interconnection, it believes it is only vital for wind if government freezes on wind growth in Spain and other EU countries.