Spain launches ambitious 2020 wind energy target

SPAIN: Spain's central government has proposed wind become the national electricity system's biggest single generator by 2020--up from third currently--producing nearly 84,000GWh by that year.

Spain will need more wind farms such as this one in Andalucia if it is to reach its 22% target
Spain will need more wind farms such as this one in Andalucia if it is to reach its 22% target

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The energy proposals, drafted by the economy ministry, are among many other economic proposals in a draft document titled: Political Agreement on Economic Growth and Recovery and Job Creation.

The draft has been handed to parliamentary groups with the aim of negotiating multi-party consensus on a broad economic recovery strategy.

The proposed wind production target translates to 22.6% of the 2020 power mix and is way ahead combined cycle gas, the country’s current top generator, which is earmarked to produce 62,00GWh (16.7%). Nuclear, currently the second biggest generator , is expected to produce nearly 56,000 GWh (15%).

Moreover, if Spain is to hit the ambitious wind energy target it will need to double the current 19.1GW of online capacity.

Nevertheless, recent policy capping annual wind capacity makes attaining such targets impossible, according to national wind association, Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE).
The association welcomes the document but repeats its call on the government to remove or raise the caps (Windpower Monthly, February 2010). Already over 5000 jobs have been lost as capacity capping has slowed factory orders, alleges AEE.

The government’s proposal ties in with Spain’s obligation, under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, to source to renewables, by 2020, 20% of its primary energy mix. This includes electricity, transport and heating.

The Spanish document slightly raises that aim to 20.2%. It estimates primary energy consumption by 2020 at the equivalent of burning 102 million tons of oil. That is up from nearly 99 million equivalent tons today.

The projection is actually around 5% lower than previous forecasts in overall energy demand growth. That is why the document’s 2020 cumulative wind capacity target of 40GW—5GW from offshore—is actually slightly lower than the wind industry’s previous 45GW expectation, says AEE.

At the same time, the forecasting tweak also contributes to the proposed slashing of conventional generation. Most noticeably, gas fired production would drop from 83,000 GWh currently to 62,000GWh by 2020. Wind and solar are set to pick up most of that slack, reaching a penetration of 22.3% and 8%, respectively, against current levels of 11.5% and 1%.

Meanwhile, the document calls for a revision of the pay mechanism for wind generation by the end of 2010. That call is "interpreted by all as a decision to reduce incentives", according to AEE.

The association has long since criticised the industry ministry for tarring wind power’s costs with the same brush as other renewables and now demands the government shows its colours with a draft revision, in the first half of 2010.
Wind produced 44% of all renewables generation in Spain in 2009 while only using 22% of renewables incentives paid by the electricity system, says AEE. In contrast, the two solar technologies combined accounted for just 9% of total renewables generation but received 48% of total renewables incentives in 2009, it says.
In order to ensure wind reaches the proposed target for 2020, AEE calls the government to forward a draft of the revised pay scheme for wind production in the first half of 2010 with a long-term framework proposal. That, and removing or raising the annual capacity cap, is the only way to provide investors with the assurances to back new projects from now on, argues the association.

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