“There have been several peaks over 40% in Spain, but this new one – lasting nearly six hours compared to around one hour the previous time – shows the huge part that wind can play in meeting Spain’s electricity demand,” Jacopo Moccia, regulatory affairs adviser for EWEA said.
The surge in wind power last night triggered water pumping stations which transport water into reservoirs. This store of water will then be released over the day generating electricity via water turbines at times of peak demand.
The Spanish Wind Energy Association said the sustained peak in wind powered electricity production proves that “wind energy is no longer marginal”. By 2020 Spain is expected to double its wind-power producing capacity from the current level of 16 gigawatts to 40 GW. “With this expected growth in capacity we could envisage wind meeting the vast majority of demand during times of peak supply by 2020,” Moccia said.
On average throughout the year, wind energy meets 12% of Spain’s electricity demand. The largest producer of wind power in Spain is Iberdrola, with 27 percent of capacity, followed by Acciona on 16 percent and Endesa with 10 percent. Spain’s wind farms are on track to meet a government target of 20,000 MW in capacity by 2010.
Installed wind capacity in Spain reached 16,740 MW in 2008 with the addition of 1,609 MW. Expectations for the Spanish wind energy industry for 2009 are very high, with 18,500 MW of total capacity will be installed.
The wind sector expected this growth after the 3,500-MW increase in 2007, a special year in which companies made an effort to start up the greatest number of wind farms so they could benefit from the previous support system. The total of 16,740 MW establishes Spain as the third country in the world in terms of installed capacity and will allow the 2010 objective (20,155 MW set by the Renewable Energies Plan 2005–2010) to be reached.
The addition of 1,609 MW in 2008 is an increase of 10.63%, the third highest increase in absolute terms in the short history of wind energy in Spain. The only higher annual increases were in 2007 (3,505 MW or 30%) and 2004 (2,297.51 MW or 37%).
Electrical energy demand in 2008 was 266,485 GWh, a growth of 1.21% over 2007. Wind energy met 11% of this demand and was the fourth largest contributing technology in the generation system, besting hydropower (7% of demand). The other contributors to the system were gas combined-cycle power plants (32% of total demand), nuclear power plants (20%), and coal power plants (16%).
On several occasions in 2008, wind energy covered more than 40% of hourly demand, and for several days it supplied more than 30% of daily electricity demand. For instance, on November 24, wind energy supplied more than 35% of the total electricity demand. And on several occasions, production of wind energy reached more than 40% of hourly demand.
Wind energy in Spain has also emerged as a driving force for industrial development. In 2008, investment was more than 2,250 million €, and about 50% of Spanish wind energy equipment production is dedicated to the export market. According to the “Macroeconomic Study on the Impact of the Wind Energy Sector in Spain,” the number of jobs related to wind power reached more than 40,000 in 2008. Of this total, the number of direct jobs in operation and maintenance of wind farms, manufacturing, assembly, research, and development is estimated at more than 21,800. The number of indirect jobs (linked mainly to components) is estimated to be more than 17,000.
The industrial sector participating in the Asociación Empresarial Eólica, or (Spanish Wind Energy Association) has established a new objective of 40,000 MW for 2020. Use of wind power has lowered CO2 emissions by about 18 million tons just during 2008. Furthermore, wind generation has saved up to 6 million tons of conventional fuels. Wind production has supplied the electrical consumption of more than 10 million households.
Gamesa installed more than 50% of new capacity, according to the Spanish Wind Energy Association’s Wind Observatory, with more than 9,480 MW (including the subsidiary company MADE) in Spain, which consolidates its leadership among manufacturers. VESTAS, the second largest manufacturer, installed more than 15% of new capacity in 2008, adding 242.2 MW.