Spain: global wind power leader demonstrates how wind has become a mainstream energy source
The Spanish wind power industry is on a roll. From just over 200 MW in 1997, the Spanish market has been steadily growing at annual rates of more than 30%. Last year Spain reached a record level of 2,065 MW installed, a 33% increase on 2003, taking the total to 8,263 MW, and leading the world for the first time, just pushing ahead of the previous leader Germany.
As a result of its continued success, the previous Government target of 13,000 MW installed wind capacity in 2010 has been updated to 20,000 MW in 2011. In 1999, the target was 8,900 MW by 2010, considered ambitious at that time. The Government’s new target would see wind energy supplying 15% national electricity consumption, up from 6.5% today.
“It is a fact, not an aspiration or green dream, that wind energy is on track to be amongst Spain’s leading energy supply technologies”, said Corin Millais, CEO of EWEA. “Installed wind capacity already exceeds nuclear and CCGT, and will this decade overtake coal and large hydro.”
Wind energy in Spain has now entered a dynamic phase where the serious challenges that arise when wind energy becomes one of the main energy supply technologies need to be met. Current policy direction signals how an intermittent power source can be integrated into the electricity market in significant quantities. Predictability is the
key to address intermittency at large penetration levels. To move towards 15% of the country’s power from wind energy, will require a strategic grid framework. This is currently being developed in partnership with the transmission operators, utilities, wind players and regional governments.
“To dismiss wind energy as an expensive, niche green luxury, as many do, is to ignore what has happened in Spain, the world’s number one wind market”, said Millais. “The political drivers in Spain have largely been about economic development especially in
the regions, creating jobs, competing in world markets, all against a background of surging energy demand, an increasing proportion of expensive energy imports, and recently a challenging Kyoto target. On all these points, wind is a winning choice”.
More than 500 companies are now involved in the Spanish wind energy sector, with about 150 factories manufacturing turbines and their components across the Spanish regions. Including those indirectly employed in supplying components and services, the total number of jobs supported by Spain’s wind industry has reached
more than 30,000. This is estimated to double to 60,000 by 2010 on reaching the new target.
“In the energy world with its seductive array of proposed solutions – from clean coal to carbon sequestration to nuclear fusion – what convinces most, and what wind delivers, is proof, not promises”, said Millais.