The wind power production remains above the nuclear in Spain By Antonio Cerrillo

Wind power was consolidated last month as the second source of electricity in Spain. Wind turbines contributed to 20.1% of electricity demand (behind power plants of combined cycle of natural gas, which generated 28.4% of total), which stood for the second consecutive month, up from nuclear energy (17.4%). Yesterday at half past seven o’clock, and at the hour of peak demand for electricity (with 30,469 MW), wind energy and hydropower contributed to 60% of the electricity demand in Spain.

In fact, increasing renewable energy production was the highlight in reviewing the map of power generation in Spain last year. Electricity production from wind power exceeded in 2009, for the first time, that generated by coal, and wind power has become the third source of peninsular electricity demand, according to Spanish Electricity Network (REE) .

The thermal combined cycle natural gas (30.4% of total demand) and nuclear (20%) remain the two main sources of electricity production. However, in 2009 the wind turbines have come to occupy the third position (14.3%) above the thermal coal (12.7%). In addition, other relevant data: wind and solar electricity (the new renewable energy) contributed 17.1% of total demand, which is also a record.

The year 2009 has seen a decline of 4.5% of electricity demand, because "90% of the crisis and to a lesser extent climatic factors, such as a mild winter, which has driven down the consumption of heating, according to Jose Santamarta, editor of World Watch in Spain.

But the decisive factor that has revolutionized the energy map in Spain has been the growing presence of wind farms. The production of wind turbines has surpassed in 2009 on several occasions earlier highs of instantaneous power.

In 2009, 95% of new electric power was installed in Spain were new wind farms. Thus, increased electrical power 2,682 MW (and reached 18,119 MW in total). And this amount corresponded to 2,576 MW to new wind turbines while the rest was completed by 568 MW combined cycle plants and solar (photovoltaic and solar thermal power concentration). There was no new nuclear and no new hydro.

Continuous records

Thus, in the early morning of Dec. 30, there was a new record of wind power, then came to cover 54.1% of demand at 3.50 pm. The high wind production that morning, and the high hydropower generation (due to recent rains), forced Spain’s Red Electrica to minimize heat production, while in parallel, had to give order to reduce production from wind between 4 and 7 in the morning at 600 MW.

"The wind is not only marginal energy, but that is redefining the energy map," says José Santamarta. Counting also the hydro, renewable sources accounted for 26% of electricity demand last year in Spain.