Spanish wind industry aims to bring 60GW online by 2030

SPAIN: Spain's wind sector is pressing the government to raise the cap on the new capacity it will allow to come on-stream in the next two years. At the same time, it is also trying to set a firm target for the sector beyond 2020, and the figure of 60GW by 2030 has begun to gain currency as a feasible goal.

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Jose Donoso, president of national wind association Asociacion Empresarial EOlica (AEE), presented the figure before the multi-party parliamentary energy review committee, which, in December, took evidence from electricity sector leaders as a first step towards establishing a long-term energy strategy for 2015 to 2030.

Donoso says the estimate, which would provide around 40% of all Spain’s annual electricity consumption by 2030, is based on the assumption of ongoing political support for wind. This would keep average growth at a steady 2.1GW of new installed capacity annually to 2030, on top of the 18GW of existing installed capacity.

Up to 10GW of the cumulative total to 2030 could be installed offshore, pending the outcome of a series of ongoing R&D projects that are seeking to overcome obstacles to that technology posed by Spain’s extremely deep coastal waters. But Donoso adds: "Most new investments beyond 2020 will go into repowering and extending existing wind plants using improved technologies and know-how."

Part of AEE’s forecast is based on the International Energy Agency’s outlook for the next 20 years, during which time it expects energy demand to have shot up 40% against present levels, mainly due to the energy thirst of the booming Indian and Chinese economies.

That will lead to upward pressure on energy prices and geopolitical moves to control energy resources, "making wind power Spain’s main indigenous source of energy even more attractive," says Donoso.

"Meeting the target implies a massive effort towards further integrating wind into the electricity system," admits Donoso. "But we’ve already made huge strides in that field." He points to the extent to which wind power penetration is currently soaring beyond levels conceived as possible less than a decade ago.

"And Spain’s got more hydroelectric pump storage planned, together with improved interconnection with France, and the push for electric vehicles is fast gathering pace." For Donoso, these advances will all help balance the ups and downs of wind generation. "The 60GW target is within our grasp," he says. "Our job now is to stay on track by continuing to provide solutions to increased penetration and to keep society on our side."

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