Juan Virgilio Márquez, general director of AEE, analyzes the proposals of the wind sector before the next legislature.
1.What do you consider to be the main challenges for the next legislature in relation to the development of wind power in Spain?
The electricity sector is a regulated sector. And the regulation of the renewable sector, in a tremendously changing environment, is particularly complex so it must be constantly refined. For this reason, we need a Government that has a complete legislature ahead of it to address a series of challenges that require time and dedication to be able to do so, counting on the experts and the sector itself so that this regulation is as accurate as possible.
- The political and economic situation of the country affects the demand for electrical energy in Spain. The growth of renewable power continues to increase in the country at a rate not matched by electricity demand. What effects can it have?
The electrical system in general is an unstable equilibrium in which there are a series of vectors that must always be well balanced. Generation, demand and infrastructure must advance at the same time. If any of them is brought forward or does not reach the necessary pace, inefficiencies are generated that can be so serious as to slow down or paralyze investments, generate extra costs for consumers, or damage one’s own industrial capacity. The risk of having idle facilities for a time, with the consequent loss of profitability for the investor, seriously conditions the financing and viability of the assets. And past history tells us that structural inertia exists in the energy sector and that we can see scenarios of certain renewable over-installation in which facilities suffer unacceptable profitability losses.
Perhaps years ago, 7-8 years ago, we were in a complicated moment of “scarcity management” with a lethargic renewable energy market in Spain, but now we are in the opposite scenario of “abundance management” because, with the Current regulation, there is a lot of renewable plant that has to be installed within two years. The structural factor that complicates the equation is that demand, far from increasing, is decreasing and to increase it there are main vectors such as industry or the electrification of transport that it is essential to boost.
Therefore, the short-medium term management of the new wind power to be integrated into the system is a priority and anticipating how it will be affected by the rest of the technologies that are also being installed is a critical task. But not only for the new parks but also for those that have already been operating in certain nodes that are beginning to have very significant congestion and that will also have to endure significant discharges.
- Do the wind sector proposals go through there then?
- Several aspects that are essential must be attacked.
- On the one hand, as we have already mentioned before, the organization of the start-up of renewable installations, to guarantee a balanced operational mix year after year and avoid inefficiency scenarios.
- On the other hand, planning must evolve into a scheme that provides visibility in the long and short term, not only as a reference to 2030 but also as a monitoring and forecasting system in the short term, 2 or 3 years ahead. The PNIEC must have a complement that provides us with visibility in the intermediate scenarios of renewable penetration, which provides precise information on how and where the energy vectors of generation and consumption advance, their times, their locations and their risks. If we manage to combine the short- and long-term vision with certainty, as well as streamline, simplify and digitalize the processing of projects, this will generate a comfortable scenario for the existing wind value chain in our country and in Europe.
- Additionally, there are other important aspects in which urgent progress must be made, such as the take-off of offshore wind, improving the design of auctions to focus them on value, the management of the large number of access permits that have not yet been granted, social acceptance in the territories and the solution to the judicialization that exists in certain areas where wind projects are being paralyzed.
- What do you consider to be the main threats to the wind industry?
- Maintaining industrial capacity in Spain and Europe is a priority. The wind industry in Spain/EU is at a time of extreme financial vulnerability, with limitations to be able to invest in expanding its production capacities and developing new products, just at the moment of greatest growth expectations of the European wind market and just when The Chinese industry has the most aggressive wind export commercial strategy in its history.
- We have 100% of the wind value chain in our country, with a leading position in technological development. The repeated negative economic results of European companies make it difficult to continue with R&D investments, precisely at a decisive moment: the European supply chain is not enough to cover all objectives and the Chinese industry is knocking on the doors of promoters Europeans. We are in a moment of economic recovery and RepowerEU, that is, the European Union has realized the importance of being autonomous in certain sectors such as renewable energy. As a result of this, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has recently announced the creation of the new Wind Energy Package, which seeks to urgently mitigate this imbalance between the European market and the strategies of other markets. If Europe stops developing added value in its wind technology, the industry that operates globally will migrate to other markets with better conditions to have cutting-edge technological ecosystems.
- During this term, progress has been made towards what will be the development of offshore wind power in Spain. What milestones do we have pending for its development in Spain?
- The approval of the Maritime Space Management Plans (POEM) has meant a necessary step to begin the deployment of offshore wind in Spain, at a time when the countries around us already have their plans. It is essential to move forward with the development of projects and mobilize investments in the short term. The process of preparing the POEM has been complex and rigorous, due to the need to analyze and weigh a multitude of factors related to the different activities that take place in the marine environment and preserve the natural values of the coast and the sea.
- The coherent organization of the Management Plans constitutes a fundamental aspect to avoid future conflicts and ensure that the call for future auctions and the subsequent processing of the awarded projects can be carried out effectively.
- It remains to update the regulatory framework with an industrial focus, as well as call the first auction as soon as possible, along with a calendar that facilitates investment and offers visibility for the development of this technology in the country, whose wind farms may be in operation in 2030.
- Social consensus and co-responsibility of all actors is essential to make the coexistence of offshore wind power with other activities possible.
- The take-off of offshore wind constitutes a huge opportunity from an energy, industrial, climatic and socio-economic point of view, mainly for coastal communities.