Wind energy in Spain: raise & fall

Windenergyburn (1)

Spain is the 5th world wind energy exporter country and 3rd in Europe; however, the successful reality of 2009 is absolutely different from now. Experts hesitate that this success could last in the long-term if there is not a clear political will to boost local market. Indeed, even if in 2007 was a pioneer industry producing 20% of total world wind energy as well as a leader in I+D in this sector, currently it seems that the export market is not enough to keep a productive business that is seeing the fall of local market and tariff deficit.

More than wine and shoes, Spain found another eager market in this sector by exporting 2.500 millions euros annually in wind technology.

Kristian Ruby, chief policy officer at the EWEA* called for “long-term visibility” for the industry. “Strong reforms to the operation of Europe’s electricity market and much-needed upgrades to infrastructure to help the integration of wind energy must be a priority” [1]

However, wind energy is still not considered and strategic goal on Spanish government priorities agenda.

In fact, economic austerity measures that are being implemented since the onset of the financial crisis, severely hit this sector. Since mid 2014 painful cuts to wind farm incentives—for existing projects as well as new ones— are literally destroying the continuity of the successful position that Spain holds as one of the countries along with Portugal and Denmark that generate at least 20% of energy from wind[2]

The relevance of this sector in Spain is also important to help meet goals of European Commission on renewal energy that demands an average of 20% and not the current 14.3%. In wind energy they should reach 27650 MW in 5 years, which represents 4664 MW per year, however experts conclude that reach just a 1000 MW per year is absolutely impossible.[3]

A project of this magnitude need about 6 years to be developed, is it so that build safety in regulation terms is extremely important and not the current situation in which the Spanish government has done too many changes and so little to address those impacts. Not just for future projects but also for the maintenance of current installations with support on regulation and finance.

Spain is losing the opportunity of keeping the position of pioneer in wind energy that holds in 2007. Is it clear that the negative impact of global financial crisis has been equal for all sectors, that is why the importance to take smart political decisions that establish dynamic priorities financially and on regulatory frameworks to “save” for those times in which there is no possibility of more investment.

Austerity is the strategic economic-political perspective for Spain to get out of crisis that is the reason why is imperative to release strong and resilient regulatory frameworks that help the sector on their development, even without financial government support.

Sectors like wind energy helps the society not just in environmental aspects but also on reducing public spending. Main point of struggle in Spain: manage with not sustainable levels of indebtedness (98%) and a general wrong strategic focus in finance priorities that lead to a sustained high rate of unemployment (23.7%), consequently on less investment policies.

More than ever a sound political will for a smart strategic long-term agenda is what would make the difference. Austerity -instead of investment-, seems to be the only government option for addressing recovery. Create alternative mechanisms to reduce public spending like energy savings is urgently needed. Certainly, a regulatory framework and a boost of productivity by a harmonic legislation is the path to get out of this slow growth that is pushing the country into a secular stagnation.


*EWEA: European Wind Energy Association




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