Since the beginning of this year, 25 wind energy jobs have been lost per day. This represents a total of 3,600 jobs lost. Nine factories were closed and another three are undergoing a suspension of activity, according to data from Asociación Empresarial Eólica (Wind Energy Association).
In his opening speech of the 2013 Wind Energy Convention, held in Madrid, José López-Tafall, president of AEE, argued that these figures are a direct consequence of the measures taken by the Government this year against the so called tariff deficit: the 7% tax on generation and Royal Decree Law 2/2013. This has meant a 15% cutback on remuneration. ‘The wind energy industry has been punished so harshly that it seems that we are the ones responsible for the tariff deficit,’ he said. The industry expects an impact on its accounts of about 6 billion by 2020 as a result of both measures.
In this regard, López-Tafall requested the Government to make these measures temporary, and associated with recovering electricity demand as well as the revenue loss—600 billion euros in 2013 alone—to be compensated. ‘We urge the government, following its own words, to solve the industry’s problem by applying justice. And it should acknowledge that the wind energy sector, after RDL 2/2013, has already paid its share of the bill. We paid in advance.’ Additionally, the wind energy sector is requesting implementation of a specific industry support plan that allows industrial jobs to be maintained and international operations to be increased.
‘The wind industry is not guilty of the tariff deficit,’ said Lopez-Tafall. ‘It has always grown according to the objectives and costs set by the regulatory framework. In 2012, the industry generated 17% of the electricity consumed in Spain, and its total remuneration represented only 11% of the total system costs.’ He added that Spanish wind energy incentives are among the lowest in Europe (only those of Sweden, Denmark and Ireland, countries with much greater wind resources, are lower).
‘In this regard, we should consider what wind energy does for Spain every day’, said the president of AEE. He was referring to the six-month period (November to May) in which wind energy was, for the first time, the system’s number one technology during a full six months. In that six-month period, fossil fuel import savings were generated in the amount of 1.7 billion. This has allowed wind energy to contribute ‘to the first commercial surplus in the history of our country.’ The omission of 12 million tons of CO2 worth 47.5 million euros was prevented. Furthermore, the electricity market price was reduced by 11.5 euros compared to the previous year, with the consequent savings of 684 million on the bills of large industrial companies. It also provided the possibility of lowering the price of electricity for consumers.
‘We cannot pay for the mistakes of others just as we cannot continue paying almost exclusively for the industry’s adjustment. If the government understands this message, there will be a future,’ said Lopez-Tafall. ‘If this is understood, wind energy is yet able to give Spain great satisfaction. With a more balanced industry, open to competition and with its legal security back, wind energy has a lot to offer’.
Lopez-Tafall was followed by Andrew Garrad, President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). According to Garrad, who said that the achievements of wind energy in our country have been ‘spectacular’, the regulatory situation experienced in Spain is a concern in Europe. ‘In this industry, Spain has been a beacon to the rest of the world and the Spanish Government should ask itself if it wishes to continue being a leader in wind energy in the future. If it wants to be part of an industry that spends twice the amount in R&D than the rest. If it wants to be part of the 800,000 jobs that will exist in the EU in 2030.” he said. He added that ‘other governments would want this, but they have neither the industry nor the experience that Spain has in grid integration. Do you really want to throw it all away because of short-term difficulties?’
In his view, ‘the industry’s future depends on stable regulatory frameworks and long-term goals.’ EWEA argues that the European Union should set binding renewable energy consumption objectives for 2030 (the current ones are for 2020).