Installed wind energy capacity in Spain reached 19,149 MW in 2009 with the addition of 2,460 MW

Installed wind power capacity in Spain reached 19,149 MW in 2009 with the addition of 2,460 MW, according to the Spanish Wind Energy Association’s Wind Observatory. Such growth was not expected after the 1,585-MW increase in 2008 in which companies made a big effort to keep the planned number of wind farms after spectacular wind farm capacity growth in previous years.

The 19,149 MW of capacity establishes Spain as the fourth country in the world in terms of installed wind turbines capacity and will allow the 2010 objective (20,155 MW set by the Renewable Energies Plan 2005–2010) to be reached. The total electricity produced from wind turbines in Spain in 2009 reached 36,188 GWh.

The addition of 2,459.44 MW in 2009 is an increase of 14.74%, the second largest in absolute terms in the history of wind energy in Spain. This increase is only overtaken by 2007 (3,519 MW and 30%), although 2004 was the biggest in percentage terms at 37% (2,291 MW). However, the creation of the new mandatory Preallocation Register by the Spanish central government will operate as a bottle neck to future wind energy sector deployment.

Electrical energy demand in 2009 was 251.30 TWh, a decrease of 4.47% from 2008. Wind energy met 14.39% of this demand and was the third largest contributing technology in 2009. Other big contributors to the system were gas combined-cycle power plants (31% of total demand) and nuclear power plants (21%).

Wind energy is a driving force for industrial development in Spain. In 2009, investment was more than 2,250 million €, and about 50% of Spanish wind power equipment production was dedicated to the export market. But the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE) warns that a wind industry slowdown will be caused by the creation of the Register of Pre-Assignment by the Spanish government.

This slowdown has resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs and development. In 2010, according to sector forecasts, the industry will only install about 1,000 MW, the lowest figure since 2000. According to the “Macroeconomic Study on the Impact of the Wind Energy Sector in Spain,” the number of jobs related to wind power has declined during 2009 by 35% reaching less than 26,000.

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 16,000 (22% less than 2008). The number of indirect jobs (linked mainly to wind turbines components) is estimated to be more than 8,000 (almost 50% less than 2008).

Finally, it is important to point out the significant efforts of the industrial sector and the system operators to implement the new Grid Code (P.O.12.3). Due to their coordinated efforts, the impact of wind energy on system operation is smaller than expected. The regulatory systems have been able to regulate and optimize system management at very low cost.

National targets

The present objectives for 2010 for the promotion of renewable energies are contained in the Spanish Renewable Energy Plan 2005–2010 (PER) (1). This plan is a revision of the previous version completed in 2002. The aim of this revision was to maintain the commitment to meet at least 12% of total energy use from renewable sources by 2010. It also incorporates other indicative targets (29.4% of electricity generated from renewable sources and 5.75% of transport fuel from biofuels).

For the wind energy sector, the PER objective implies reaching a capacity of 20,155 MW by the end of 2010. The 2,460 MW installed in 2009 confirms that the sector is strong. The installed wind power in Spain during 2009 implies a growth rate of 14.74%. It is expected that this growth will be not maintained or probably will decrease in the next year, and will just reach the total of 20,155 MW fixed as the objective according to PER.

Wind energy is still considered a strong sector and its continuous growth has created the expectation of new targets for the next term. There is consensus for fixing a new target of 40,000 MW by 2020. The majority of the Autonomous Regions (that are responsible for regulating wind installations) have plans for reaching 41,000 MW between 2010 and 2020.

Local governments see the need for this on the basis of energy production, local resource use, industrial development, and job creation in their zones. The industrial sector participating in the AEE has established a new objective of 40,000 MW for 2020 (2). It is conducting studies and developing strategies to reach that goal.

Finally, the management and planning of the new Spanish target is designed to fulfill the new European Union objectives established during 2007—to supply 20% of the primary energy with renewable sources by 2020. Due to the solidity of the wind sector, it is likely that an important amount of the renewable objective will be covered by wind energy.

The total electrical generation capacity in the Spanish mainland generation system increased more than 2,682 MW during 2009 and reached a total of 92,152 MW according to the data of Red Eléctrica de España (the Spanish Transmission System Operator [TSO]) (3). Wind power and gas combined cycle are the technologies that contributed to this growth. With more than 19,149 MW of wind power installed, there are nowadays more than 18,400 wind turbines operating in Spain. They are grouped among 850 wind farms.

The average size of an installed wind farm in 2008 was 26 MW. Wind energy is present in fifteen of the seventeen Autonomous Communities. Castilla–Leon has the most installed power among them. The region’s capacity breakdown shows that Castilla–Leon keeps its leadership with 3,882.72 MW (548.68 MW added in 2009).

The biggest growth in absolute terms is in Andalucía, with 1,077.46 MW; that amount put the region in fourth place with 2,840.07 MW, after of Castilla-La Mancha which has 3,699.61 MW, and Galicia which had 3,231.81 MW. In percentages, Andalucía has experienced the biggest growth, with 61.13%.

With the 1.077 MW installed in 2009, it has reached 2,840.07 MW. Andalucía is followed by Comunidad Valenciana, which grew 41.56%, adding 289.75 MW to reach a total of 986.99 MW. The third is Catalonia with a growth of 25.06% adding 105.10 MW. Only two Autonomous Regions, Extremadura and Madrid, have not yet installed any wind power capacity.

However, they have advanced projects and regulation to start wind energy activities. It should be noted that unlike many other countries with significant wind development, Spain has increased its distribution throughout the country.

Use of wind power has lowered CO2 emissions by about 22 million tons just during 2009. Furthermore, wind generation has saved up to 7 million tons of conventional fuels. Wind farm production has supplied the electrical consumption of more than 11.5 million households.

National Incentive Programs

The promotion of renewable energies has been a stable national policy for several years. All political parties have similar policies regarding support of renewable energies. The main tools within this policy at a national level are:

A payment and support mechanism enacted by the Parliament through Electric Act 54/1997: Producers of renewable energy sources are entitled to connect their facilities and transfer the power to the system through the distribution or transmission grid and receive remuneration in return.

The Renewable Energy Plan, including midterm objectives for each technology (PER 2005–2010), and the tariff scheme are guaranteed until the fulfillment of targets.

Royal Decree (RD) 661/2007 regulates the price of electricity from renewable sources in Spain. The new regulation has been in force since June 2007. Wind farm installations governed by previous regulations (RD 436/2004) had until January 2009 to decide whether they would continue to follow RD 436 or choose the new RD 661/2007.

Royal Decree Act (RDA) 6/2009 established a new mandatory instrument called “Pre-allocation Register” where all new promotions must be included before obtaining the required permit. This instrument aims to define the adequate RES progress taking into account, energy prices, electricity tariff deficit, and network capacity.

To facilitate the integration of wind energy into the grid, supplemental incentives are based on technical considerations (reactive power and voltage dips). These incentives apply only for existing wind farms (after January 2008 it is mandatory to satisfy Grid Code P.O.12.3).

Payment for electricity generated by wind farms in Spain is based on a feed-in scheme. The owners of wind farms have two options:

1. A regulated tariff scheme: payment for electricity generated by a wind farm is independent of the size of the installation and the year of start-up. For 2009, the value was 78.183 €/MWh; the update is based on the Retail Price Index minus an adjustment factor.

2. A market option: payment is calculated as the market price of electricity plus a premium, plus a supplement, and minus the cost of deviations from energy forecasting. There is a lower limit to guarantee the economic viability of the installations and an upper limit (Cap and floor). For instance, the values for 2009 are reference premium 31.27 €/MWh, lower limit 76.098 €/MWh, and upper limit 90.692 €/MWh.

The feed-in scheme will be valid until fulfillment of the PER objective (20,155 MW) in 2010. An additional 2,000 MW are considered for repowering wind farms built before December 2001, and an extra bonus of 7 €/MWh is considered. By comparison, during 2009, the average electricity price reached 64.43 €/MWh. A new small wind systems grid connection requirements Act and feed-in tariff for small wind is under discussion.

The economic slowdown has affected the wind industry toward the end of 2009. Also, a new mandatory instrument called “Pre-allocation Register” aims to define the adequate RES progress taking into account, energy prices, electricity tariff deficit, and network capacity. As a result of this decision, wind turbine production is declining and thousands of jobs have been lost. Development in 2010 may be as low as 1,000 MW, the lowest figure since 2000.

The number of installations during 2009 demonstrates the maturity of the wind industry, which has been able to increase despite worldwide difficulties with financial crisis and deployment of the Preallocation Register in Spain. Installing and operating wind plants to cover 14.39% of the Spanish electrical demand implies a huge accomplishment by the developers and manufacturers.

In 2009, there was a tendency to consolidate holdings. The largest companies had accumulated the farms they put into the network and some companies were being acquired by others. Nevertheless, new agents also appeared in the Spanish market as promoters and manufacturers. In 2009, 74.5% of the Spanish wind market was covered by the top-ten developers compared to 77% in 2008.

In the ranking of wind farm owners, Iberdrola Renewables, the largest Spanish utility, has the largest accumulated capacity (4,882 MW) thanks to the addition in 2009 of 341.45 MW. Acciona Energy is still in second place with an accumulated capacity of 3,996.82 MW with bigger new capacity (359.60 MW). Several other organizations have installed wind power capacity during 2009.

Gamesa installed more than 34% of the new wind turbines capacity in 2009 (845.15 MW), according to the AEE’s Wind Observatory, with more than 10,334.67 MW (including the subsidiary company Made), which consolidates its leadership among manufacturers. Vestas, the second largest manufacturer, installed more than 23.32% of new capacity in 2009, adding 573.71 MW.

Among new technological developments are two 3-MW-rated power wind turbines under test by Alston-Ecotécnia and Acciona Wind Power, another being designed by MTorres, and a brand-new 5-MW wind turbine from Gamesa is under test.

In relation to small wind, several new manufacturers are developing small wind turbines from 3 kW to 100 kW for grid-connected applications, and two manufacturers are working on new mid wind turbine prototypes in the range from 150 kW to 300 kW.

The number of wind turbines in Spain increased by more than 890 in 2008, and the total number of wind turbines is more than 18,400 units. The average size of a wind turbine installed in 2008 was 1.85 MW. Wind turbines operating in Spain show important seasonal behavior. Total electricity generated by wind farms was more than 31,100 GWh, and the equivalent hours at rated power were slightly higher than 2,000 hours for all of the wind farms. On 18 April 2008, new historic highs in wind power were recorded: 10,879 MW of instantaneous power, 10,727 MWh of hourly wind power, and 213,169 MWh of daily wind power (28.2% of the electrical demand for that day).

On 24 November 2009, wind power production supplied 43% of total demand. Regulations for the grid code have been completed successfully. Every wind farm is assigned to a control center and only 30% of wind capacity installed has not complied with low voltage ridetrough requirement.


The increasing use of large wind turbines (2 MW of nominal power), the increasing prices of raw materials, the shortage of main components, and the excess demand for wind turbines have increased prices for wind generators. The average cost per kilowatt installed during 2009 in Spain was about 1,250 €/kW.

R, D&D Activities

The new National R&D plan developed in 2008 has been progressing in 2009. This plan covers the period from 2008 to 2011 for the R&D and technological program prepared by the Spanish national government. It is based on the national science and technology strategy instead of thematic areas as in previous calls. There are also another R&D programs promoted by the Autonomous Communities for wind energy research activity at regional level.

The ongoing PER (Renewable Energies Plan) 2005–2010 is making an exhaustive analysis of the technological innovation required to achieve its objectives. In the case of wind energy, the priority for the Spanish manufacturers is to make efforts leading toward the following goals:

Develop advanced systems to control the quality of the power fed into the grid, 
Develop wind turbines with unit power outputs of more than 2 MW,
Adapt high-capacity wind turbines to the more demanding technical requirements of offshore applications, and
Implement demonstrations of offshore wind farms.

Within the basic research activity drive by the General Sub-direction for Research projects of the Science and Innovation Ministry, many projects have been proposed for the different Subprograms of the National R&D Plan:

Subprogram of fundamental research projects (not oriented).
Subprogram of fundamental research projects oriented to knowledge transfer.
Subprogram of complementary actions for non-oriented fundamental research projects.
Assistance for development and reinforcement to Results Research Transfer Offices.

It is important to highlight that most of the projects presented in this solicitation were focused on grid integration and control subjects. During 2009, the following projects and lead institutions were approved:

Robust control modeling and simulation for advanced wind turbines in order to improve their efficiency:
Basque country University
Advanced solutions for global integration of wind farms in the electrical network: Basque country University
Instruments for risk analysis in wind farms: University of Castilla-La Mancha.
Study of the voltage sags in the stability of wind energy generators: Catalonia Polytechnic University
Wind energy generation systems and grid code requirements: University of Vigo.
Studies of integration of electrical and mechanical models for DFIG and PMSG wind turbines: University of Castilla-LA Mancha
Development of a test bench for voltage and frequency disturbances test in wind turbines connected to weak grids: Politechnical University of Madrid.
Review of flicker measurement procedure IEC 61000-4-15. Influence in the Power quality characterization of wind turbines: Basque
country University.
Optimized hybrid wind-biomass system for hydrogen production: Polytechnic University of Valencia.
Development and validation of optimized tools for wind blades manufacturing process based in resin infusion and prepare materials: CENERCiemat Foundation.
CENER-GRC gearbox reliability collaborative: CENER-Ciemat Foundation.
Control tuning base in wind turbine models in closed loop: CENER-Ciemat Foundation.
Characterization of turbulence and dust accumulation in the surface of wind blades: CENER-Ciemat Foundation.
Simulation and forecast of extreme wind in the Iberian Peninsula: Complutense University of Madrid.
Development of a local wind forecasting
model for offshore wind energy
applications: Ciemat.
Application of matrix converter in wind energy: University of Malaga.
Modeling and control of wind turbines with matrix converter: University of Jaen.
Diagnostic of wind turbines based on analytic redundancy: CARTIF Foundation

The CENIT program carried out by the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) from the Ministry of Science and Innovation is another effort to increase R&D activities. It is a Spanish-government program aimed at increasing investment in R&D for both public and private initiatives over the next few years, with the objective of reaching 2% of GPD. The program started in 2006 and so far two projects have been approved:

Windlider 2015 (completed) and Eolia (in progress). The R&D project called Eolia is a consortium of 16 companies led by Acciona Energia. The project has been approved by the CDTI for a grant of 16.7 million €, not quite half the overall 33.9 million € estimated total investment required. Eolia includes 25 research centers and seven private companies subcontracted by the consortium. Its objective is to develop technologies enabling deployment of offshore wind plants in deep waters (over 40 m). The project’s research activities integrate a series of technologies, including energy (wind power and other electricity technologies) aquaculture, desalination, construction, naval and marine grid connections, and O&M technologies.

Another instrument is the called “PSE Projects” are Strategic National Consortiums for Technological Research led by the industrial sector in collaboration with the public and private research centers. In the field of wind energy, a project called Minieolica is developing to promote the Spanish small wind energy sector (new developments of turbines up to 100 kW).

This project involves more than six manufacturers of small wind turbines and components, three engineering companies, five public and private research centers, three universities, and three end users. The 16 projects are organized in three main areas:

Product development supporting manufacturers to develop new products. New designs will cover the needs of the market in the power range between 1 and 5 kW for urban and residential applications (innovative horizontal- and vertical-axis wind turbines) and
from 20-kW and 100-kW very reliable, robust, and efficient newly designed small wind turbines for residential, industrial, and agricultural applications.

Technical development breaking technological barriers and advancing technological development in key areas for small wind turbines.

Infrastructure development activating and supporting the small wind turbine sector. The objectives of this area are promotion, dissemination, sensitization, and information collection for the small wind turbine sector.

Another important PSE project approved within the R&D strategic public private entities collaboration is a new project called EMERGE lead by the company Iberdrola Renovables. It has been approved in 2009 for four years. The main objective of this project is the development of useful technology to extend the capacity to build offshore wind farms in deep waters. The partnership is composed by private companies as Iberdrola Renovables, Alston Wind, Acciona Energia and KV Consultores and R&D centers as Robotiker (Tecnalia Corp), the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research IREC and public research organizations such as the Basque Country University and UPV and Cadiz University UCA. This project is composed by four sub-projects:

Subproject 1: Design and development of wind turbines for offshore application
Subproject 2: Design and development of floating support structures for offshore wind applications
Subproject 3: Analysis and development of electrical link technology for deep waters offshore applications.
Subproject 4: Analysis and developments of wind turbine-support structure coupling solutions.

The total budget of the EMERGE project reach 9.2 million € (2009-2012) Finally, The Spanish Wind Power Technological Platform REOLTEC has an important role in the coordination and definition of Spanish R&D activities in wind energy (4). REOLTEC was created with the support of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science as a place for exchange of ideas among all Spanish R&D entities to define priorities. In addition, it establishes procedures for optimizing the acquisition of forecasted results, and it establishes the priorities in wind energy R&D to advise the government.

Those priorities are studied by working groups that focus on wind turbine technology, wind resources and site assessment, grid codes, certification and standardization, offshore wind farms, applications, environmental affairs, and social acceptance studies.

The Next Term

Expectations for the Spanish wind energy industry for 2010 are not very promising. The wind industry slowdown has been caused by funding problems related to the financial crisis and by the Register of Pre-Assignment, created by the central government in order to control more precisely the RES capacity growth. Wind was included mainly because of the high fed-in tariff cost, and also because of some local grid integration constraints.

In spite of these factors, the target defined in the PER 2005-2010 of 20,155 MW by the end of 2010 will be accomplished. Once the target is reached, a revision of the tariff scheme will be in order. The new PER 2011-2020 with new objectives and tariffs will be delivered by the end of 2010.

Electricity prices seem likely to be flat in 2010 and may not exceed 80 €/MWh (especially if the contribution of hydropower to the system continues increasing and oil prices do not increase too much). During 2010, technology and installation costs are expected to be lower than 2009. With a joint effort of the transmission system operator, utilities, and the wind energy sector, wind parks will continue to increase their contribution to meeting electrical demand.

A new Renewable Energy Plan is being studied by the authorities to include the objectives of the European Union for 2020. A realistic estimate for wind energy in Spain is that 40,000 MW of onshore and 5,000 MW of offshore wind capacity could be operating by 2020, providing close to 30% of Spain’s electricity.


(1) The Spanish Renewable Energy Plan 2005–2010, Instituto para la Diversificación y Ahorro de la Energía (IDAE; Institute for Diversification and Saving of Energy) July 2005.
(2) Wind Power Observatory. 2009, Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE; Spanish Wind Energy Association). January 2008.
(3) The Spanish Electricity System. Preliminary Report 2009, Red Eléctrica de España. REE. December 2009.
(4) REOLTEC. Spanish Wind Power Technological Platform IV General Assembly.

Authors: Ignacio Cruz and Enrique Soria Lascorz, CIEMAT, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, and Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE, the Spanish Wind Energy Association), Spain.