For the first time ever, Red Eléctrica has published the ‘Renewable energy in the Spanish electricity system 2016’ report, which provides an overview of the impact and share of renewable energy in the overall national generation mix during the year and its evolution over recent years, both in terms of installed capacity and total generation. It also shows comparative data regarding the member states of Entso-e, the association that brings together European TSOs, operators and owners of the transmission grids that comprise the electricity systems of the European Union.
The report contains the most complete and up-to-date information on the situation and evolution of renewable energy in Spain. It is structured into four main chapters: energy from the wind, energy from water, energy from the sun and energy from the Earth and sea, plus an introductory chapter with data regarding the overall behaviour of renewable energy during the past year.
Renewable energy represented more than 45% of total installed capacity in 2016
Installed renewable power capacity in the national electricity system in 2016 totalled 47,921 MW, representing more than 45% of the total power capacity. Combined renewable energy generation reached almost 39% of the total national generation.
Among the set of renewable energy technologies installed, the most important technology was wind, with 23,057 MW of installed capacity at the end of 2016, followed by hydro with 17,025 MW and solar, with 6,973 MW. From the point of view of generation, wind energy accounted for 47.3% of all renewable production, followed by hydropower with 35.5% and solar energy, with 12.9% (7.9% photovoltaic and 5% thermal).
To the extent that renewable energy has been progressively replacing the use of fossil fuels, the level of emissions from electricity generation has declined. In 2016, emissions stood at 63.5 million tonnes of CO2, 18.3% less than in 2015 and 43.1% less than in 2007.
Castilla y León, the undisputed leader
By autonomous community, the majority of installed renewable power capacity can be found in Castilla y León, Galicia, Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha. Together these four regions account for nearly 62% of the total renewable power capacity nationwide. Of note is Castilla y León, which alone represents 22% of the installed renewable capacity in Spain in 2016.
Castilla y León is the region with the most installed power capacity regarding wind (almost 25%) and hydro (about 26%); Castilla-La Mancha is the region with more solar photovoltaic (almost 20%), and Andalusia leads solar thermal (with more than 43%).
Ten years of growth
Renewable energy started to emerge and become a player in the electricity generation system a little more than a decade ago and currently constitutes one of the main sources of production with the entire set of generation facilities in Spain.
The evolution of installed renewable power capacity in Spain over the last ten years shows that wind and solar technologies have been the main drivers of the increase in renewable generation over this period, registering a growth of almost 70% compared to 2007. The share in the overall generation mix has gone from 20.3% in 2007 to almost 39% in 2016.
Since 2007, the technology that has contributed most to the increase of renewable generation has been wind. Although it is a fact that hydro had traditionally been the main renewable source in Spain, in 2009 wind energy took the lead. Also noteworthy is the increase in solar energy, whose first megawatt was installed in 2000 and has grown to the current value of 6,973 MW.
In line with Europe
The development of renewable energy is one of the key objectives of the Clean Energy package proposed by the European Union to achieve a decarbonised energy model. However, the integration of renewable energy, due to it being intermittent and highly unpredictable, represents a challenge for system operation. Red Eléctrica, through its Control Centre of Renewable Energies (Cecre) has made important advances in order to facilitate the integration of this type energy into the operation of the electricity system under reliable and safe conditions.
In Europe, where there has also been a positive evolution in recent years as a result of the European Union's targets for renewables and emissions, Spain ranks fourth in terms of volume of renewable generation. Spain is the second country with the greatest installed wind power capacity, only behind Germany and it ranks fourth regarding installed hydropower and solar capacity.
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