In Spain, wind power carried by favorable winds – 04/11/2022 at 18:58

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Wind turbines in Villar de los Navarros, in the Zaragoza region, on April 5, 2022 ( AFP / CESAR MANSO )

Influx of investments and abundance of projects: in Spain, favorable winds are blowing on the wind sector, which last year became the country’s leading source of electricity. An asset at a time when the war in Ukraine has revived the debate on energy independence from the EU.

“Here, we are on favorable ground”, assures Joaquin García Latorre, project manager at Enel Green Power España, pointing to the gigantic masts erected on the heights of Villar de los Navarros, village of a hundred souls of the Zaragoza region (northeast).

The Hispano-Italian group chose this site well exposed to the wind to set up one of the largest wind farms in the country: the Tico Wind park, comprising 43 turbines with an overall power of 180 megawatt-hours (MWh).

“This park entered the production phase in November” and will be fully operational “within a month”, explains Joaquin García Latorre, while workers are busy around these immense machines, culminating at more than a hundred meters in height. .

“There are between 2,500 and 3,000 hours of wind here per year. This means that we will be able to produce nearly 471 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually”, or “the equivalent of the consumption of 148,000 households”, adds the manager of ‘Enel.

From Galicia to the Basque Country via Andalusia, projects of this type have multiplied for several years in Spain, the second country in Europe behind Germany and the fifth country in the world in terms of installed wind power.

According to the manager of the Spanish electricity network, wind power became the first source of electricity in the country last year with 23% against 21% for nuclear and 17% for gas.

“Wind power benefits from a favorable situation”, even if there are still “brakes” to its development, very dependent on the auctions organized by the government, judge Francisco Valverde Sanchez, specialist in the sector at the firm Menta Energia.

After a boom in the early 2000s thanks to the granting of public aid, the sector suffered a sudden halt in 2013, following the cessation of subsidies in the midst of the economic crisis.

Since then, it has picked up again: the installed power of Spain, which hosts a total of 1,265 wind farms, has thus increased from 23.4 gigawatts in 2018 to 28.1 gigawatts in 2021, according to the Spanish Association of wind companies (AEE).

– “Energy attic” –

Many sparsely populated areas, supportive legal framework, cutting-edge industrial fabric… “Spain is currently one of the most interesting markets for investors”, underlines Juan Virgilio Márquez, Director General of the AEE.

Wind turbine installation on the heights of Villar de los Navarros, April 5, 2022 (AFP / CESAR MANSO)

Wind turbine installation on the heights of Villar de los Navarros, April 5, 2022 (AFP / CESAR MANSO)

Third world exporter of aerogenerators, the country hosts several heavyweights of renewables, like Iberdrola or Naturgy. “This explains the dynamism of the sector” and the “appetite” it arouses, insists Mr. Márquez.

An appetite that goes beyond just energy players: in November, the Spanish multi-billionaire Amancio Ortega, founder of Zara, injected 245 million euros into a park in the northeast of the country.

Will this momentum continue? In 2020, Madrid is committed to increasing by 2030 the share of renewables (wind, solar, etc.) in electricity to 74% against 47% currently. This leads to the commissioning of 22 gigawatts in eight years.

To achieve this objective, the government is counting on the development of offshore wind power, at this nascent stage, but for which Spain has great potential, with its thousands of kilometers of coastline.

“This is an ambitious objective” which involves “further accelerating the deployment” of the sector, notes Francisco Valverde Sanchez. This can only be done, according to him, on condition of reducing “the bureaucracy”, which delays many files.

According to the AEE, nearly 600 projects are currently being examined by the State services. As part of its economic response plan to the war in Ukraine, Madrid has pledged to speed up the procedure for projects below 75 MW.

Spain “has sufficient resources to become the first European country for the production and export of renewable energies”, essential for the “energy independence” of the EU, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez insisted on Wednesday.

A message relayed by the entire sector since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Spain has a great wind potential (…) It could become the energy breadbasket of Europe”, summarizes Juan Virgilio Márquez.

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