We are commencing a new decade and it's time to take stock. Many things can change in ten years and the way electricity is generated has also undergone changes. Renewables in Spain closed 2010 with a 33.2% share of the generation mix. Ten years later, and with more renewable power capacity installed than ever, this share rose 4.3 percentage points.
This increase, governed by more favourable climate conditions in terms of wind and rain, has a direct impact on CO2 emissions associated with electricity generation.
Thus, over the last decade (2010-2019) the weight of clean energy in the generation mix has been 8.7% higher, an increase that is much more significant if we take into account non-hydro technologies, as the share of other clean energy technologies in the overall electricity generation mix steadily increased during this 10-year period, rising to 24.3%.
Technologies that do not emit CO2 (nuclear and all types of renewables) were responsible for 54.8% of the total production in Spain in 2010 and closed the decade accounting for 59.6% of the total generation.
The past and present of electricity generation
How has electricity generation in Spain evolved in terms of each technology over the last ten years? Nuclear and combined cycle generally battle for the top spot in terms of cumulative annual production. However, wind power generation is increasingly gaining prominence, while coal-fired generation in 2019 experienced the largest decline in annual production, reducing the energy generated by this technology by 66% compared to the previous year.
2019: the beginning of the end of coal-fired generation
One of the protagonists in 2019 was coal. Not so much as for its presence but for its absence. Although coal started the year accounting for bit more than 13% of the total generation, since March its share has not exceeded 5%.
The gap left by coal-fired generation has been covered, in large part, by combined cycle that, together with nuclear and wind, have covered 60% of this year's national total. Each of these technologies has generated the equivalent of one fifth of the annual generation mix and they have led the technologies that have contributed most to the mix every month of the year.
Coal-fired generation closed 2019 with the lowest share in the national generation mix since records began in Red Eléctrica.
The last few days of the decade saw the beginning of the end for coal-fired generation: the 14th, 21st, 22nd, 24th and 25th of December 2019 were the first days in history when not one single MWh of electricity was generated with this technology in the peninsular electricity system.