Wind power breaks records in Spain in 2021

Wind was the top power source in Spain in 2021 despite new installations slowing from the previous year

Just over 500MW of new wind power capacity was added in Spain last year (pic credit: AEE)

Wind power was the leading source of electricity generation in Spain last year, and also became the top generation technology in terms of cumulative installed capacity, at just over 28GW. However, newly installed capacity – around 500MW – was less than a third of the 1.7GW installed in 2020.

Over 2021, wind covered 23.3% of power generated nationwide, producing just over 60.6TWh, 10.5% up on the production figure for the previous year, according to provisional figures from grid operator Red Eléctrica de España (REE).

The achievement comes as the power sector recuperates from the impact of Covid, with REE provisionally calculating total electricity production in 2021 to be up 3.8% to 260.8TWh.

This is the second leading annual performance for Spanish wind since 2013, when became the first country globally in which wind power was the top generator for an entire year.

Meanwhile, solar PV power production surged by 37.7% to reach 8.1% of the generation mix in 2021. Renewable sources combined to account for 46.6% of total electricity generation last year, producing more than 121.5TWh, up 9.9% on 2020, marking “good progress” towards Spain’s green transition, according to REE chairwoman Beatriz Corredor.

After wind power, nuclear ranks second provisionally with 20.6% of Spain’s generation mix in 2021, followed by combined cycle gas with 17.6%, hydro with 11.3%, cogeneration with 10%, solar PV with 8.1%, and coal with 1.9%.

Spanish wind also finished the year with a flourish, momentarily reaching 83.6% of the mix at 3.03pm on 29 December, its highest spot share ever.

That record follows wind’s highest absolute generation nationwide, with just over 20.1GW of power feeding the grid at 1.34pm on 8 December, according to Spanish wind association, Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE), which analysed REE's grid-monitoring live-stream and statistics.

Meanwhile, the reduction in newly installed wind capacity last year, at little more than 500MW, is widely attributed to a scarcity of auctions in recent years. This year’s tenders were the first to be held since 2017.

New capacity performance in 2022 is expected to be higher, as building begins on capacity auctioned in 2021, in January and October, finally allocating a combined 3256MW, with an average price of €25.31/MWh and €30.18/MWh, respectively.