Renewables contributed 10,521 million to GDP in Spain

The renewable energy sector contributed 10,521 million euros to gross domestic product (GDP) last year and represented 0.87% of the national economy, seven tenths more than in 2017, thanks to the competitiveness achieved by wind energy and photovoltaics.

The contribution of the renewable sector to GDP increased by 10.7% and chained its fourth year of growth, according to the eleventh study of the macroeconomic impact of these energies in Spain presented today by the Association of Renewable Energy Companies, APPA.

However, the contribution of the sector to GDP was 0.87%, below the maximum of 1% it had in 2012, according to the report, which highlighted the creation of jobs in the sector that increased in 2018 by 3, 3% and employed 81,294 people, 50,107 direct jobs and 31,186 indirect jobs.

Regarding exports, 2018 was a new record by standing at 4,739 million euros, far from offsetting the impact of fossil imports on the energy balance, which yields purchases worth 25,132 million euros, according to the report.

The use of renewable energy generated savings in energy imports worth 8,547 million euros and 899 million in emission rights, he adds.

This type of energy increased its participation in primary energy consumption 1.7 percentage points compared to 2017 and accounted for 13.9%, thirdly after oil products (44.9%) and natural gas (21.1 %).

The Study of the Macroeconomic Impact of Renewable Energies in Spain, presented today by APPA Renovables, has shown the main macroeconomic figures of the sector as it has been doing for twelve years. In 2018, the sector grew by 10.7% in real terms, setting a new export record (€ 4,739 M) and placing its contribution to national GDP at € 10,521 M (0.87%). The sector employed 81,294 people, increasing employment by 3.3%. The savings produced in the electricity market (€ 4,735 M) were lower than the perceived regulated remuneration (€ 5,694 M). At the environmental level, it generated savings in energy imports amounting to € 8,547 million and € 899 million in emission rights.

More than 160 professionals in the energy sector have attended today the presentation of the Study of the Macroeconomic Impact of Renewable Energies in Spain that has reached its eleventh edition. The study, conducted by the Association of Renewable Energy Companies (APPA Renovables), has been presented by the president of the Association, José Miguel Villarig, and the general director, José María González Moya, who were accompanied at the event by Arcadio Gutiérrez , general director of the Spanish Energy Club (ENERCLUB), where the presentation was made.

The objective of the Macro Study, as the Study is known colloquially in the renewable sector, is none other than to analyze in detail what the impact of renewables on the Spanish economy is and will be at a time when the Energy Transition is leveling out National and European

Sustained growth of GDP and employment

The competitiveness achieved by some renewable technologies and the auctions carried out in 2016 and 2017 have consolidated the reactivation of the national renewable sector that is growing at the highest rate of the last eight years. The growth rate of the sector stood at 10.7% in real terms, reaching 10,521 million euros of contribution to GDP directly and induced. In this way, the renewable sector constitutes, today, 0.87% of the national GDP, chaining four years of growth.

The reasons for this growth are diverse. In electricity generation, the 2016 and 2017 auctions and the competitiveness achieved by some technologies – especially wind and photovoltaic – have reactivated the sector. Additionally, the stability of thermal uses and the good numbers experienced by biofuels complete the causes of growth experienced in 2018.

Greater penetration of renewables in Spain

Renewable energies increased their participation in primary energy consumption 1.7 percentage points compared to 2017, this was due to a greater contribution of primary energy of renewable origin, placing the percentage of renewables at 13.9% of the total primary energy. It figures that it is in third place, behind petroleum products (44.9%) and natural gas (21.1%).

Renewables accounted for 15.1% of final energy in Spain in 2018. If we look at the behavior of non-electric renewables, with a growth of 8.1% compared to 2017, their contribution was 6.7% of energy final. Among the direct uses of renewables, there is a slight rebound in thermal uses and significant growth in biofuels. Biodiesel consumption experienced an increase of 42.4% and that of bioethanol 12.7% during the year 2018.

In the case of gross final energy from renewable energy, a reference measure for meeting the 20% targets by 2020, there has been a slight setback, standing at 17.3%.

Exports add a new record

Exports once again set a record in the historical series with 4,739 million euros of exports in goods and services, yielding a net export balance of 2,746 million euros. This net export balance of renewable energies contrasts with the energy deficit of our trade balance, which stood at -25,132 million. Compared to the total national deficit (€ 33,840 M), the energy deficit accounts for 74%, so it is evident the need to bet on renewable energy as a solution to the loss of foreign exchange involved in energy imports.

Employment growth in a sector that will be leading

Employment grew by 3.3% compared to the previous year, and the Renewable Sector registered a total of 81,294 jobs in global terms in 2018. The creation of net employment compared to 2017 was therefore 2,627 new jobs . It is true that this improvement is still far from the rates achieved in 2008, with a figure close to 145,000 direct and indirect jobs.

By technologies, the energies that created new net jobs in 2018 were: wind power (1,961); the photovoltaic solar (966); biofuels (158); the mini-hydraulics (53); low enthalpy geothermal energy (13); the marine (11); the solar thermal (9); the minieólica (3) and high enthalpy geothermal energy (3). On the contrary, only biomass (-507) and concentrated solar power (-43) were destroyed.

Growing research effort in the renewable sector

In 2018, the investment of renewable companies in research, development and innovation (R & D & I) accounted for 3.07% of their contribution to GDP. As in recent years, it is observed that renewable energies make investments of this type with great effort. In fact, the effort was almost triple the average of the Spanish economy (1.2%) and well above the average of the European Union (2.07%). Specifically, the investment of renewable companies was 2.56 times higher than the Spanish average and 1.48 times higher than the European one.

The Sector as a whole makes a strong commitment to innovation activities, for example, in technologies such as wind, photovoltaic, thermoelectric, biomass or mini-hydro, with a high degree of development, or other less developed Currently, such as the marina, the minieólica or the high enthalpy geothermal energy.

A development that must have continuity

The president of APPA Renovables, José Miguel Villarig, celebrated the activity of the sector and demanded stability for future development “after a moratorium of years we have put the sector back to maximum speed, what we need now is planning with consensus and stability to avoid paralyze the sector again ”.

The president of the Association referred to political instability as a weakness: “We know our European goals for 2030 and the figures show that the commitment to these technologies is ambitious, but we are concerned about aspects such as the depressing effect, spills and other aspects of our own of the future evolution of the energy mix as if the market signals are and will be correct to meet the objectives of the Plan and whether the investments will be profitable or not. ”

Villarig was optimistic in assessing the future activity of the sector, “Spain has shown that it has experienced companies, magnificent renewable resources and leading professionals worldwide. Renewable energies are a national strategic commitment that, if they have a stable and consensual regulation, can develop a strong industry that will allow us to reach the 2030 objectives set in the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan, ”Villarig concluded.