Spain’s wind energy grew at the slowest rate last year since 2003

Spain’s wind power capacity grew at the slowest rate last year since 2003 due to uncertainty over future subsidies, Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE) said in the world’s fourth-biggest producer.

Spanish Wind Energy Association estimated that Spain closed 2010 with wind farm plants capable of producing 20,664 MW in total, or 7.9 percent more than a year earlier. Wind turbines accounted for 16.6 percent of all electricity produced in Spain last year. Less than 3,000 megawatts of wind power capacity were due to be installed in 2011 and 2012, Spanish Wind Energy Association added.

"After that, payment to installations is unknown, nor the system to be used which, looking forward, hampers beginning work on new wind parks," Spanish Wind Energy Association said. "This is important, because Spain, like all European Union countries, will have to meet a target of 20 percent of final energy consumption derived from renewables, for which wind power will be basic."

Spain’s government estimates that meeting EU 2020 targets will require increasing the country’s wind power capacity to 35,000 MW, in addition to 3,000 MW off shore. Wind energy in Spain also moves the spot wholesale electricity market, because producers can sell it at a discount to power produced from imported gas and coal.

In July last year, the government reached a preliminary agreement with wind and Concentrating Solar Power producers, in which premiums paid to wind power producers above market prices would be cut by 35 percent in 2013.

Since then, however, the government has failed to reach cross-party agreement on an "energy pact" to determine the future of subsidies and Spain’s generation mix. Spain’s biggest power utility, Iberdrola, had most wind farms installed at the end of 2010, AEE added, at 5,168.5 MW in 2010, followed by Acciona, on 4,037 MW. Gamesa has manufactured most wind turbines installed in Spain to date, on 9,846 MW, with Denmarks’ Vestas in second place, with 3,529 MW.