In Touch with the Wind

The prospects for alternative energy sources in Spain are glorious. With energy consumption on the Iberian peninsula on the rise, the need for renewable sources of primary energy is strong

On 20 March 2007, Spanish power network operator Red Electrica reported a new production record: The day before, 8,375 megawatts (MW) of wind energy had been fed into the power grid. That is 27 % of the current energy consumption. Wind power has a long tradition on the Iberian peninsula: it has been used to propel ships, drive agricultural machines and mills, and more recently, generate electricity. On an international scale, Spain ranks second after Germany in installed wind power. Together both countries account for more than 50% of the total wind energy production in Europe. In 2006, Spanish wind turbines generated nearly 12,000 MW – and the upward trend continues. During the past year alone, Spain installed new units with a total rated power of 1,587 MW (+15.8%). This makes Spain one of the fastest-growing wind power markets, next to the U.S., Germany and India.

A Symbol of Progress

The Spanish government is expecting continued strong growth of its installed wind power base during the coming years. The official Renewable Energy Plan (PER) assumes an increase of 2,000 MW annually and expects to reach the 20,000 MW mark by the year 2010. That would be equivalent to a 12.1% share of renewable energy sources in the nation’s primary energy consumption, and a 30.3% share in the nation’s total electricity output. Today, renewable energy covers nearly nine percent of the energy consumption. The most productive wind power region of Spain is Galicia near the Atlantic coast where the installed base totals 2,603 MW, followed by Castilla-La Mancha with 2,311 MW and Castilla de León with 2,120 MW. Both areas have boosted their wind power generation substantially, surpassing the former champions, Aragón, Navarra and Andalusia. Spain boasts outstanding wind power conditions in areas nearly devoid of humans. Most Spaniards do not consider wind farms symbols of environmentalism, nor do they have any misgivings about their aesthetics. People willing to walk in the footsteps of Miguel de Cervantes’ satirical hero and fight against windmills are hard to find. In the land of Don Quixote, wind farms are symbols of progress and modernism... and employment. Wind turbines help secure 80,000 jobs, be it directly or indirectly. Meanwhile, business considerations have shifted the focus towards offshore energy production. 31 offshore projects are currently awaiting approval. The coastal waters off Galicia and Andalusia offer optimal wind conditions. Experts estimate the Spanish offshore wind power potential to total 3,000 MW, or one-fourth of the current inland capacity.

Wind Energy Protects the Climate

The new issue of the PER proposes an energy mix for the years from 2008 to 2020, with a renewable energy share in the electricity production far beyond the 20% demanded by the European Commission. The Spanish government has concluded specific target agreements for electricity generation from 2012 to 2020, resulting in a 32%, and ultimately, a 37% share of renewables in the overall energy production. Incentives such as public subsidies, government investment and tax benefits attract investment in renewable energy. To date, a major portion of the country’s energy consumption has come from fossil fuels, i.e., oil and gas imported from the Gulf region as well as northern and western Africa.

Among the World’s Top-Ten

Gamesa Eólica is a leading manufacturer of wind turbines as are Ecotecnia and Acciona. Based in Pamplona, the enterprise and its workforce of 5,400 were able to increase their worldwide market share from 12.9% to 15.6% in 2006. Gamesa Eólica ranks second among the world’s top-10 wind-turbine manufacturers, ahead of Enercon and GE Wind. Vestas, the current market leader, has a 28.2% market share. Gamesa Eólica is represented in 22 countries – wherever the demand for wind power is booming. During the past year, the company installed new units with a total output of over 10,000 MW. Quite obviously, the future prospects are viewed as positive. The company’s engineers are currently designing the next-generation Gamesa G10x turbines.
Germanischer Lloyd bzw. WINDTEST Kaiser-Wilhelm-Koog
Christoph Thiel, Head of Energy Group

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