Wind priorities: accelerate processing and take care of the value chain for sustainable and technologically autonomous energy transition

The Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE) celebrates a new edition of the ‘Wind and Market’ conference, with the participation of more than 200 experts to analyze challenges and opportunities facing a new period in the consolidation and advancement of renewable energies in the electrical system , in our economy and society.
Regulation, planning, procedures and, ultimately, the approach to actions aimed at advancing the energy transition must take into consideration industrial and technological autonomy as one of its fundamental pillars.
Accelerating the administrative processing of wind projects, more digital, more coordinated and transparent, is presented as a priority need for the sector.
Work on electrification policies, solve the judicialization of the processing of wind projects in some territories, work rigorously for the social acceptance of the projects, ensure the European wind value chain in the face of the threat from third markets and achieve take-off of offshore wind, as well as advancing in the deployment of networks and activating a stable rate of investments in storage efficiently, are other challenges for the sector.

The wind industry in our country is a fundamental pillar for economic growth, the creation of qualified employment and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and maintains a firm conviction to continue playing a leading role in compliance with the PNIEC.

Wind energy contributes 24% of generation in Spain, already being the first technology in the electrical matrix. The sector employs 40,000 professionals and exports exceed €2,500 annually, placing us in 5th place in the world ranking. Therefore, looking after our wind industry is a priority.

“The electrical system is an environment of unstable balances, where supply must be balanced with demand, and must advance in the most coupled way possible. If electricity demand does not increase, renewable electricity generation will not be able to have a purchasing counterparty and could face scenarios of loss of profitability. Working on electrification policies that have an effect in the short-medium term on consumers – both domestic and industrial – is one of the most important tasks we face as a sector,” highlighted Juan Diego Díaz, president of the Association Wind Energy at the opening of the ‘Wind and Market’ conference. “This is the main challenge of this period: to electrify efficiently, for consumers and for the system.”

Díaz has indicated that the difference between generation and demand not only affects the linear advance of renewable installation, but can also condition the development of other vectors such as storage, which is another of the challenges that the wind sector faces. It is necessary to delve deeper into the scenarios for storage deployment and extract the greatest benefits from these very CAPEX-intensive investments.

Furthermore, progress in the deployment of networks is a priority with a dynamic, agile and adaptable development to different scenarios, avoiding structural congestion that conditions renewable development and guaranteeing quality and safety standards for the operation of the system. The new philosophy in network planning, its timing, its flexibility, is one of the first-line points of debate this year, highlighted the president of AEE.

For her part, Carmen Becerril, president of OMIE, who participated in the opening of the day, analyzed the recent reform of the energy market and the role of wind power. The PNIEC suggests that the current 30,000 MW of wind power will have to be doubled to 62 GW in 2030. What is the demand situation? Becerril has highlighted that it has been the same in 2023 as it was 20 years ago, remaining flat, but everything revolves around the concept of electrification of energy, and it must be the great bet of the wind sector with the more than 60 GW that there will be in 2030 The president of OMIE has stated: “We must be more ambitious and think about the electrification of many sectors and domestic consumers, and we must work for the electrification of our economy. We need electricity demand and storage, and reach a level of concreteness at that has not yet been reached, but there is a bright future with more than 20 GW that already have approved Environmental Authorization.

Priority in the Autonomous Communities: streamlining of processing
The administrative processing of wind projects continues to be a subject to improve by companies, administrations and territories. Accelerating administrative processing is critical for our energy, economic, industrial and climate resilience. It must be processed more quickly and the deadlines established in European regulations must be met rigorously, with homogeneous criteria and close coordination between the Administrations. To achieve this, it is essential that Administrations have the necessary capabilities in a comprehensive manner: material resources and tools, people and the necessary training, with unique and clear guidelines, with truly operational organizational structures, and with modern approaches and efficient processes. And the sector must contribute with responsibility and rigor, prioritizing the most mature projects and focusing efforts on those initiatives that have less risk.

To achieve in 2030 the wind target of 62 GW contemplated in the PNIEC proposal sent to the European Commission for approval, it would be necessary to incorporate more than 4 GW per year, necessary for direct consumption by homes, companies and for industrial consumption. of key sectors such as renewable hydrogen. Therefore, if wind power could not meet the adequate installation rate, the implications would be multisectoral.

Currently, in Spain there are more than 20 GW of wind projects with approved Environmental Authorization, of which 11 GW must obtain Construction Authorization before July of this year. RDL 8/23 of December last year established an extension of deadlines, both to obtain the Construction Authorization and the Exploitation Authorization, being able to extend the start-up of the projects until 2028.

It is essential to have legal certainty, which prevents projects that have obtained all the technical and environmental authorizations and after years of exhaustive work from being subsequently paralyzed by judicial criteria that modify the interpretation of a norm that has been used to date in a manner satisfactory. Paralyzing facilities or projects under construction has serious implications for employment in the sector, but also for industrial employment that will be a consumer of the energy generated by them.

In this sense, the wind sector is concerned about the judicialization of the processing of wind projects that have been recently developed in some territories, with the application of precautionary measures to stop projects that already have environmental and construction authorization. Fortunately, these precautionary stoppages are being annulled by the Supreme Court and we hope that normality will soon be restored.

“These measures have meant a tsunami for investments, for the creation of value-added employment, for orders to the industry and for the attraction of industrial consumption to the territory,” pointed out the president of AEE, “where the damage generated is difficult to value, not only economically, but in intangible areas such as reputation, social acceptance, the country’s image or the cost for future generations.”

Another priority issue is the social acceptance of projects in the territories, where the first responsibility falls on the sector, which must work with sensitivity and rigor, in advance in the territories and being aware of local realities, providing information early on the projects to guarantee a healthy process for all the actors involved. We have to continue teaching a lot about the reality of the benefits that wind farms bring to the territory, to its local socio-economy and to the care of the environment. The income from wind farms in the municipalities already represents more than 10%.

Defense of the value chain of the European wind industry: Wind Power Action Plan and Wind Charter
Spain is an international benchmark because it is one of the few countries with 100% of the wind energy value chain, and the fifth country in the world with the largest export of wind turbines.

The sector’s supply chain has experienced difficult years since 2020 and we must continue to advance so that we look after the entire value chain. Regulation, planning, procedures and, ultimately, the approach to actions aimed at advancing the energy transition must take into consideration industrial and technological autonomy as one of its fundamental pillars.

Faced with the threat from third markets, mainly China, the European Commission communicated in October last year the Wind Power Action Plan as an emergency mechanism to safeguard the European wind value chain. This is an important support and boost to the wind sector to guarantee its competitiveness and meet the development objectives of wind energy in Spain and the objectives of the European Union in terms of climate and energy for 2030, and which comes at a key moment in which the wind industry in Spain and the European Union suffers 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 when The Asian industry has the most aggressive wind export commercial strategy in its history.

The Action Plan consists of 15 actions divided into 6 themes, including aspects such as accelerating the granting of permits for new wind farms, improving auction designs in the European Union so that they capture the greatest value of technologies and not just the lower cost, favoring European actors over the rest. It is also proposed to improve and adapt the existing financial support instruments to provide greater comfort to industrial actors. All actions are aimed at providing stability to supply chains and guaranteeing a fair playing field between different markets globally.

This Plan was sealed on December 19, during the last Council of Energy Ministers within the Spanish Presidency of the EU, with the signing of the “European Wind Charter” supported by 26 of the 27 Member States and by more than 300 companies. of the European wind sector. Now each country has to develop the necessary regulation to comply with the charter agreements, waiting for the arrival of the Net Zero Industrial Act (NZIA), which specifies in a legal and binding manner many of the commitments that have been made for the EU and Member States. We are facing a period of necessary industrial and technological defense in Europe, and with these measures national and international energy security is being ensured, as well as the socioeconomic benefits that the wind sector represents (investments, employment, factories, etc.) they stay in Europe.

Other key subjects for development
The pending issue is the take-off of offshore wind energy in Spain. Our sector has a clear commitment to the development of this technology on our coasts, for its integration with pre-existing activities and for its benefits for local coastal communities. We are awaiting the publication of the public consultation on the regulatory package, which we understand should be a priority. Investors, the industry and, in general, the entire value chain need visibility and security in the potential development of offshore wind. The PNIEC identifies as specific challenges the installation of at least 3 GW of offshore wind in 2030 and to achieve this we must have the first auction throughout 2024.

Repowering, hybridization, storage and the circular economy are also key topics for the development of the wind sector in the coming years.

More than 200 professionals at the reference event in the wind sector
All these topics are the protagonist of the ‘Wind and Market’ conference. More than 200 attendees gather to explore key topics for the development of wind projects: market perspectives, hybridization, storage, PPAs, auctions and offshore wind.

The ‘Wind and Market 2024’ event has the VIP sponsorship of EDP Renewables, FE Energy, Greenalia, Hitachi Energy, Iberdrola, Naturgy, Repsol, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Vestas; and as collaborating sponsors RWE, SSE Renewables, Axpo and Engie.