Spain generates half electricity from renewables

Last week Spain generated nearly half of its electricity from renewable sources - the UK currently generates just 5.5%

It’s a popular myth that renewables just cannot deliver that much power.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has joked about “crucifying our landscape with wind farms which, even when they are in motion, would barely pull the skin off a rice pudding.” When he was Energy Minister John Hutton told Labour Conference in 2008, “No coal and no nuclear equals no lights, no power, no future.”

The conventional wisdom in Westminster is that renewable technologies are tomorrow’s not today’s technologies – that they’re a good idea in principle but just cannot deliver that much energy. This is a point reiterated by energy bosses, like Tony Hayward of BP who has called renewables “a valuable option for the future.”

So consider this:

On Friday, for the first time ever, there was a moment when a nearly half of Spain’s electricity came from renewable sources. This graph shows how Spain generated a whopping 45.9 per cent of all its electricity from renewable sources: eolica (wind), hidraulica (hydropower), and resto reg. esp. (biomass and solar). CO2 emissions dropped accordingly.

With such a big green energy section, no wonder that by 2006, according to Deutsche Bank, the Spanish were already employing 35,000 in their wind sector and 35,591 jobs in their solar sector. Meanwhile, Germany already produces more than 15 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, and aims to raise this to 30 per cent by 2020 and 45 per cent by 2030.

Despite having greater renewable resource potential than Spain, the UK currently generates just 5.5 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources. (Renewable Energy Strategy, DECC, Page 10.)

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18 Responses to “Spain generates half electricity from renewables”

  1. Stepney

    Well done Spain but have a really big think about a) the solar incidence in the Iberian Peninsular b) the amount of domestic solar panels in a country with such solar incidence and c) how much heating is required during the year as compared to the UK.

    Not really a fair comparison really is it?

  2. blind steve

    That graph, and those numbers, do not match the source given ( which lists Wind 2.8%, Hydro 9.1%, Others (inc solar) 15.1%.

    Of the rest 40.7% is gas turbine, 14.1% coal, and 15.3% nuclear.

  3. James Turner

    Spain generated half of its electricity from renewables the other day. No more blood for oil, anyone?

  4. joeharrod

    RT @jamesturn: Spain generated half its electricity from renewables the other day. No more blood for oil, anyone?

  5. Joss Garman

    Stepney – Actually, look at the proportion coming from wind power – a significantly greater proportion than from solar. The UK has the best renewable resources in Europe. For example, the UK has 50% of the tidal resource and 35% of the wave resource in Europe. Those technologies will be where the UK’s comparative advantage lies but we’re losing out to other countries.

    Blind Steve – you must be looking at a different graph. In the bottom at the left hand corner, set the date for Friday 23rd. (I.e. last Friday.)

  6. blind steve

    Also, FYI, Spain has a _TARGET_ of _30%_ renewbales by 2010. If you ant something to cheer lead about, consider that the world record for windpower was indeed achieved in Spain with a whopping 43% of demand being satisfied by wind one day last November.

    Of course when demand ramps up or the wind dies, you need to kick in your gas turbine or nuclear capacity to smooth the grid. Which is why the totals look the way they do.

  7. blind steve

    Right, with you, brush up rusty spanish, these are not annual totals, these are percentages of daily demand satisfied by type. See above, quite frankly. All very well when it’s windy.

    Look at today’s graph. Wind drops, back to the gas turbines. Still good though. What you need is annual graph.

    Which is why I got confused, because at the bottom there you have compared a single daily figure with UK and Germany ANNUAL totals, which is wrong.

  8. Joss Garman

    You’re right, should have made that clear. I’ll see if I can dig out the annual total since I’m confident it’d still be a whopping figure…

  9. Joss Garman

    It was 14.9% in 2005, and its a fast growing sector.

  10. blind steve

    Still be much higher than ours, yeah.

  11. Manel

    Some annual figures about Spain – 2008, REE Annual Report:
    (page 9 in

    Renewable over annual demand:
    Hydro 8%
    Wind 11%
    Mini-hydro 2%
    Other renewable (mainly solar and biomass): 3%

    That represents 24% of total demand (around 61 TWh: more than the total output of all 8 nukes in the system with a total of 57 TWh).

    The big gap with UK in renewables is wind (not being well interconnected, Spain needs – and has – a lot of flexible CCGT to backup all this non manageable power, just as the UK).
    The Spanish system subsidises renewables via a feed-in tariff, which increases costs for consumers.
    Political decision and policy implementation (requiring regulation, some extent of intervention) is needed to achieve what Spain has achieved. Is the UK ready for this?

  12. Matthew Hamilton

    @sts330 Spain produces 50% electric from renewables

  13. Paul Miller

    On a good day, Spain now generates 45% of its electricity from renewables.

  14. EOI

    RT @rellimluap On a good day, Spain now generates 45% of its electricity from renewables. #green

  15. Aun sin Nombre

    RT @eoi: RT @rellimluap On a good day, Spain now generates 45% of its electricity from renewables. #green

  16. Tíscar Lara

    RT @eoi: RT @rellimluap On a good day, Spain now generates 45% of its electricity from renewables. #green

  17. dani matielo

    RT @tiscar RT @eoi: RT @rellimluap On a good day, Spain now generates 45% of its electricity from renewables. #green

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