Wind power became Spain’s top source of electricity in 2013. A report from Spain's grid operator, Red Eléctrica de España (REE), claims a 12% rise on 2012 figures meant enough power was generated to supply 15.5 million Spanish homes – 90% of the country’s total domestic use.
An estimated 54,478 gigawatt hours of electricity, representing 20.9% of power demand, was produced last year, narrowly beating the 20.8% produced by the country’s nuclear reactors. Annual generation was boosted by another record-breaking moment on 2 February, when 17,056 megawatts of instantaneous power was recorded. On the same day the all-time maximum for hourly energy was also exceeded, reaching 16,918MWh.
The figures represent a milestone for renewable energy, with Spain becoming “the first country in the world where wind energy was the technology that most contributed to the coverage of demand in a full year”, according to the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE).
“Not all countries will be able to follow Spain’s lead”, argues Dr Peter Conner, Senior Lecturer in Renewable Energy Policy at the University of Exeter “but with our wind…and our history of world-class engineering the UK certainly can”. However, he feels “we need more generation, stronger networks and for consumers to engage with minimising their energy use and costs” in order to make this happen.
News of Spain’s ‘windfall’ came as the EU announced a new framework for climate and energy, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and a binding target for 27% of the EU's energy consumption to come from renewables. Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, welcomed the targets, calling 40% a “good start”, but added that the UK would continue to push for the more ambitious target of a 50% reduction on 1990 levels by 2030.
Targets are also being set in countries outside of the EU. The Mexican Government is among those leading the charge, having set a goal of generating 35% of electrical power from renewable sources by 2024. The country’s wind power capacity is expected to grow by around 12 gigawatts in the next six years. – Ben Alcraft
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