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 previous NREAP (2005-2010), which included midterm objectives for each technology, has been fulfilled. Until the new NREAP (2011-2020) is launched, the tariff schemes are guaranteed.
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.
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 wind power installation and the year of start-up. For 2010, the value was 77.47 euro/MWh (104.12 USD/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 wind turbines installations and an upper limit (cap and floor). For instance, the values for 2010 are reference premium 30.99 euro/MWh (41.65 USD/MWh), lower limit 75.41 euro/MWh (101.35 USD/MWh), and upper limit of 89.87 euro/MWh (120.79 USD/MWh).
A new Royal Decree 1614/2010, establish the review in terms of temporary limitation of the feed-in tariffs for the wind power installations included in the RD 661/227 for the period 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2012.
Finally a new small wind power systems grid connection requirements act and feed-in tariff for small wind energy is under discussion.
The economic slowdown has affected the wind energy industry toward the end of 2010. Also, a new mandatory instrument called “Pre-allocation Register” aims to define adequate RES progress taking into account, energy prices, electricity tariff deficit, and network capacity. As a result of this decision, wind turbines production is declining and more than 10,000 jobs have been lost.
The regulatory modifications have resulted in declining demand for wind turbines and consequently many companies have started job layoffs. Development in 2011 may be as low as 1,500 MW, the lowest figure since 2000.
The number of wind power installations during 2010 demonstrates the maturity of the wind energy industry, which has increased despite worldwide financial crisis and deployment of the Pre-allocation Register in Spain. Installing and operating wind farm plants to cover 16.4% of the Spanish electrical demand implies a huge accomplishment by the developers and manufacturers.
During 2010, the largest manufacturers were Gamesa (760.7 MW new wind farm capacity), Vestas (500.4 MW new wind turbines capacity), Alston Wind (141.78 new wind power capacity), and GE Wind (94.5 MW). In addition, some companies have appeared in the Spanish market like the German manufacturer Fülander with 12 MW or the Spanish SWEG (Former MTorres, now owned by an Egyptian industrial holding) with 6.6 MW.
Gamesa is still the top manufacturer in Spain with 11,108.07 MW total wind farm capacity installed, although in 2010 was the first time 100% of its sales were outside Spain. In the second position is Vestas Windpower with 3,528.72 MW total wind turbines capacity installed, and Alston Wind moved into third place with 1,559.85 MW.
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-sized wind turbine prototypes in the range from 150 kW to 300 kW.
Iberdrola Renovables, the largest Spanish utility, has the largest accumulated wind farm capacity (5,168.50 MW) thanks to the addition
in 2010 of 289.22 MW. However, the company installed more than 1,780 MW outside of Spain, with 39 new wind farm installations in eight countries.
Acciona Energy, in second place, has accumulated wind farm capacity of 4,036.82 MW with little new capacity (40 MW) in 2010. The Portuguese EDPR, with 1,862.92 MW total, installed 249.78 MW during 2010. The Spanish property group Govade installed 232.52 MW and several other developers have installed wind power capacity during 2010.
The number of wind turbines in Spain increased by more than 882 in 2010, and the total number of wind turbines is more than 18,933 units. The average size of a wind turbine installed in 2010 was 1.85 MW.
Wind turbines operating in Spain show important seasonal behavior. Total electricity generated by wind farms was more than 42,702 GWh, and the equivalent hours at rated power were slightly higher than 2,000 hours for all of the wind farms. On several occasions during 2010, wind power exceeded previous historical instantaneous power peaks and maximum hourly and daily energy production.
On 9 November 2010 the most daily energy was produced, 315,258 MWh; this production covered 43% of the power demand of that day. Also in February there was a monthly maximum of generated wind power covering 21% of the demand for that month. However, the variability that characterizes this energy has led to extreme situations. On 9 November (3:35 am), 54% of total power demand was covered by wind energy, while on 26 June (10:32 am) only 1% of the power demand was covered by wind energy.
On the other hand, the high wind resource during the first quarter of the year forced some power curtailment during hours of low power demand, which means losses of 0.6% of yearly production.
Regulations for the grid code have been completed successfully. Every wind farm is assigned to a control center and only 30% of wind farm capacity has not complied with the low voltage ride-through equirement.
Wind energy costs
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 power generators. The average cost per kilowatt installed during 2010 in Spain was about 1,250 euro/kW (1,680 USD/kW).
Installed wind farm capacity in Spain reached 20,676 MW in 2010 with the addition of 1,515.95 MW, according to the Spanish Wind Energy Association’s Wind Observatory.
Such smaller growth was expected after the 2,461 MW increases in 2009 in which companies made a big effort to keep the planned number of wind farms after spectacular wind power capacity growth in previous years. The 20,676 MW of capacity establishes Spain as the fourth country in the world in terms of installed capacity and reaches the 2010 objective (20,155 MW set by the Renewable Energies Plan 2005–2010). The total electricity produced from wind turbines in Spain in 2010 reached 42,702 GWh.
The creation of the new mandatory Pre-allocation Register by the Spanish central government has operated as a bottle neck to 2010 wind energy sector deployment.
Because of this, the wind farm capacity increase has been moderate compared with the last few years. The addition of 1,515.95 MW in 2010 is an increase of 7.9%. Electrical energy demand in 2010 was 259.94 TWh, an increase of 1.01% from 2009. Wind energy met 16.4% of this demand and was the third largest contributing technology in 2010. Other big contributors to the system were gas combined-cycle power plants (24.85% of total demand) and nuclear power plants (23.74%).
Wind power is a driving force for industrial development in Spain. In 2010, investment was more than 1,400 million euro (1,882 million USD), and about 50% of Spanish wind energy equipment production was dedicated to the export market. But the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE) warns that a wind power industry slowdown will be caused by the Register of Pre-Assignment by the Spanish government. In addition to this new requirement, uncertainty has been introduced because no regulatory framework has been established beyond 2013.
Also, the economic crisis has caused the suspension of orders and the loss of jobs mainly in the industrial sector. In 2011, according to sector forecasts, the industry will only install about 1,500 MW, the lowest figure since 2000. The Register of Pre-Assignment limits new wind farm capacity to 3,000 MW during the biennium 2011-12. But possibly the worst news for the sector, whose projects take five to eight years to realize, is that after 31 December 2012, it is not known if facilities shall receive remuneration, which will slow the installation of wind farms for the future.
In conclusion, it will be necessary to clarify the future regulatory framework in the wind power sector without further delay if Spain is to reach 38,000 MW in 2020, the goal of the NREAP sent by the Spanish government in Brussels last June.
The objective for 2010 established in the Spanish NREAP 2005-2010 has been reached and even exceeded. A new NREAP 2011-2020 is under development by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism. The targets drafted in this plan were to add 35,000 MW onshore, with 34,630 MW for new large wind farms and repowering old wind farms and 360 MW for small wind (wind turbines up to 100 kW rated power) and finally 3,000 MW should be dedicated to offshore wind farms. This last figure is still under debate because of the difficulty to promote offshore wind farms in Spain. The difficulties include lack of adequate electrical infrastructure near shore, excessive requirement of permits, deep marine platforms required, low social acceptance, clash of interest, etc. The aim of this new plan is to meet at least 20% of total energy use from renewable sources by 2020.
The electrical generation capacity in the Spanish mainland system increased more than 3,717 MW during 2010 for a total of 97,447 MW according to the data of Red Eléctrica de España REE (the Spanish TSO). Wind power and gas combined cycle were the technologies that contributed most to this growth.
With more than 20,676 MW of wind power installed, more than 18,933 wind turbines are operating in Spain, grouped among 889 wind farms. The average size of an installed wind farm in 2010 was 26 MW. Wind energy is present in 15 of the 17 autonomous communities. Castilla–Leon has the most installed power among them, with 4,803.82 MW. This autonomous community has had the biggest growth with 917.02 MW added in 2010, and it has a wind farm capacity forecast of 6,898 MW including the wind farms already under construction once the administrative permit goes into operation.
Catalonia experienced 62.32% growth, the second biggest, with 326.87 MW installed in 2010. It has 851.41 MW of total capacity installed. The third biggest growth has been in Murcia with 24.69% (37.60 MW) reaching 189.91 MW. With only 6 MW of new capacity installed in 2010 in Castilla-La Mancha region, it stays in second place with total capacity of 3,709.19 MW.
This autonomous community approved a new so-called “wind decree” in 2010. It is similar to the regulation already approved in Galicia, which establish a new tax on wind farms developers (different tax depending on the number of wind turbines included in the wind farm) with the compensation based on territory and visual impact produced by the wind farms. The autonomous government estimates that during the first year of operation the permit fees will raise about 15 million euro (20.2 million USD).
Castilla-La Mancha is followed by Galicia, which added 54.8 MW for a total of 3,298.33 MW and Andalucía which added 139.41 MW for a total capacity of 2,979.33 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, especially Extremadura region. It should be noted that unlike many other countries with significant wind power development, Spain has increased its distribution throughout the country. Use of wind power has lowered CO2 emissions by about 23 million tons just during 2010. Furthermore, wind turbines generation has saved up to 8.5 million tons of conventional fuels and has supplied the electrical consumption of more than 13.5 million households.
By Enrique Soria Lascorz, Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE, the Spanish Wind Energy Association), Spain and Ignacio Cruz, CIEMAT, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. www.aeeolica.org/