Spain got 47% of its electricity from renewables in March

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Climate Progress

People visit the Santa Coloma de Gramenet cemetery, outside Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Nov. 21, 2008. The city council has installed 462 solar panels on top of the grave niches. The energy they produce, equivalent to the yearly consumption of 60 homes, flows into the local energy grid and is one community’s odd and pioneering nod to the fight against global warming. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/MANU FERNANDEZ

People visit the Santa Coloma de Gramenet cemetery, outside Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Nov. 21, 2008. The city council has installed 462 solar panels on top of the grave niches. The energy they produce, equivalent to the yearly consumption of 60 homes, flows into the local energy grid and is one community’s odd and pioneering nod to the fight against global warming.

Spain is getting the vast majority of its electricity from carbon-free sources, the country’s grid operator reported on Tuesday.



According to Red Electrica de Espana (REE), the Spanish peninsula got 69 percent of its electricity generation in March from technologies that produce zero carbon emissions — that is to say, renewable energy plus some of its nuclear power. Nuclear as a whole provided 23.8 percent of the country’s electricity in March, while 47 percent came solely from renewable sources.

Most of the renewable electricity being generated in Spain comes from wind, which alone provided 22.5 percent of the country’s electricity last month. Wind often competes with nuclear for the title of Spain’s top electricity generation source overall — in fact, though nuclear pulled through in March as the top source of electricity, wind has overall provided more electricity to Spain in the entirety of 2015. From January to March, according to REE, wind provided 23.7 percent of electricity generation while nuclear made up 22.7 percent.

Spain has long been a leader in renewable energy, just recently becoming the first country in the world to have relied on wind as its top energy source for an entire year. The country is attempting to use wind power to supply 40 percent of its electricity consumption by 2020, according to CleanTechnica.

At the same time, Spain is also developing other renewable sources of energy, particularly solar photovoltaic. Though it currently only accounts for about 3 percent of electricity generation, Spain’s solar industry is one of the largest in the world, according to Al Jazeera. In 2012, it reported that solar power accounted for almost 2,000 megawatts of energy. Comparatively in the United States, there were 3,313 megawatts of solar photovoltaic installations that same year.

Though the U.S. may have more solar cumulatively, Spain’s solar makes up more more of the smaller country’s electricity use as a whole. In 2013, solar accounted for about 0.2 percent of the net electricity produced in the United States, according to the Institute for Energy Research. That same year, solar accounted for 3.1 percent of Spain’s total electricity, according to REE.

Still, Spain’s renewable energy story has not been all roses. The country’s aggressive goals have been heavily subsidized by its government, and the government has fallen into economic distress as a result. Specifically, the New York Times reported in 2013 that Spain’s tariff deficit had built up a cumulative debt of about €26 billion ($35 billion). Since then, however, the country has slashed its subsidies, putting the bulk of costs back on the power utilities themselves.

The subsidy cuts happened last summer, and since then renewable energy has not significantly grown in the country as a whole. But it has grown substantially in at least one part of Spain — the tiny island of El Hierro, which is nearing its goal to be powered 100 percent by wind and water.


Source: Climate Central. Reproduced with permission.  

  • wideEyedPupil

    “ Still, Spain’s renewable energy story has not been all roses. The country’s aggressive goals have been heavily subsidized by its government, and the government has fallen into economic distress as a result.”
    Oh that old canard. Please explaining to me how the bursting of a debt fuelled housing bubble has anything to do with subsidies to renewables? That’s what hit the Spanish economy (along with Ireland, Greece, and others) and Governments’ balance sheets. Subsidising renewable energy results in long term cost benefits to energy consumers since the marginal costs are near-zero, even discounting the costs of climate change. Add on climate change damage to agriculture, infrastructure, housing and health (not to mention the non-human environment we tend to ignore at or peril) and it makes perfect sense to continue high subsidies on Renewable Energy generation potential and energy efficiency programs.

    • Michaelinlondon1234

      In Spains case they were early to the party of photovoltaic and did have to high a subsidy. They were the early adopter before Germany started to grow and at a point where photovoltaic had huge mark up on them. The crash of 07 happened afterwards by 2-3 years. Compounded the financial challenges.

      • wideEyedPupil

        Yes all true, but the assertion that RE killed the Spanish economy is actually false conjecture.

        • Michaelinlondon1234

          I was under the impression the US crash was compounded by Basel 2 accords resulting in tight lending in Europe causing the crash here. (It did hit the UK as well as all other countries in the EU.
          So agreed Renuable energy had very little to do with the financial crisis.
          The price of photovoltaic and other renuables have come down significantly. More than 70% in some cases. High levels of subsidies are not needed.
          Work on storage and 2 way transmission Load balancing and the business and economic models need work. And are being worked on.

          • Alastair Leith

            from wikipedia: Basel II was implemented in the years prior to 2008, and was only to be implemented in early 2008 in most major economies;[1][2][3] that year’s Financial crisis intervened before Basel II could become fully effective.

            Junk debt repackaging as AAA, derivative market scamming, banks lending to banks lending to banks, cheap money in EU’s “club med”* nations leading to property speculation bubbles all contributed to GFC. Different nations effected differently in terms of their own lending sector malpractice and tax regimes and lending regulation.

            In short SolarCST played a zero percent role in the GFC and specifically in Spain’s woes same story.

            * P J Keating in letter to German Treasurer.

          • Michaelinlondon1234

            I do not agree with the assessment.
            Basel 2 tightened the money supply in Europe at a point when we had not got over the shock of the crash in the US. I read a lot over that period in London. I also had shares in a solar company so was following the market very closely at that time. Pre 08 the mark ups were huge. the same went for the subsidies. every one was expanding production. China was just starting to manufacture in large quantity. Using equipment supplied by European and American companies. The US/EU had started to ship thousands of tones of raw materials to china.
            Re spain they had started to cut subsidies realising the cost about 2 years before not more. but it was a “gradual reduction”.
            Installations in Germany were huge. US installations were almost zero in comparison. (just starting) But they still tried to build a monopoly on supply. Every one was hugely over leveraged.
            I had these arguments in 08 09 when factions in the US started to try to destroy the Chinese manufacturers with sanctions and pushed the EU to do the same. University of New south wales was a world leader at the time in reserch. Sunteck based its product on development work licensed from there. Its CEO was trained there. it was one of the world biggest manufacturers at the time and had energy ratings of almost 2-3 times the rate of its competitors. Most were sitting on low output panels overcharging for product. A lot were capable of producing higher ratings. But they just sat on the research. Sorry I digress.

    • Spain has regrettably lost its mastery of CSP power, prior to the financial crisis they had the lead. Now it has moved to the USA, which has the world’s biggest solar power towers.

      Mastery of that industry could have helped Spain export its way out of this recession, but there is no chance of that now.

      • wideEyedPupil

        The Spanish developers of Gemasolar, Torresol Energy actually licensed the technology from the USA, it was developed during the Clinton administration and canned by the Bush administration.

        • It was Spain that took it to commercialization though. And commercialization is the biggest and most important step. Until people actually start using a technology, it’s irrelevant.

          • wideEyedPupil

            Then where was that mastery you speak off?

          • A victim of the EU’s financial crisis. Spain was doing well until that point, though. And they could have taken the lead using solar power towers, they just blew their chances.

            The only form of solar power that can work for 24 hours, their chances are good post crisis.


          • wideEyedPupil

            I’m also an enthusiast for SolarCST with storage but even if Torresol Energy secured every CST plant ever commissioned it not have been enough to save Spain’s economy from the self-inflicted wounds of speculative greed by developers, too-cheap finance and govt asleep at the wheel.

          • A great deal of solar is being built worldwide, and a huge chunk of that is CSP. It’s difficult to see how billions of dollars and thousands of jobs wouldn’t improve the situation beyond measure for Spain.

            As an example, $100 billion in Bharat alone, of which 20-50% could have been CSP. If Torresol had been willing to go for this huge opportunity aggressively, Spain’s economy would have had the lifeline it needed.

            That’s not even counting Qatar, Zhonghua, South Africa and various other huge markets. A criminal waste, and a huge blunder by the Spanish government.

      • Michaelinlondon1234

        I think CSP towers are a silly Idea. Good for instant cooking of migrating birds though

        • Alastair Leith

          Evidence is such a trivial thing… not required for outrageous claims at all

          • Michaelinlondon1234

            I have a good understanding of optical principles and the effects of concentrated sunlight. I was the one that flagged the walky scorchy building in London 2 days before it started melting buildings and cars opposite. Concave face, facing south, all glass. It has cost millions to fix. One sun burns your eyes. CSP concentrates to hundreds of thousands of Lux. It will roast any thing that gets near its point of focus. That is what it is designed to do. If you are in any doubt. take a magnifying glass out side on a sunny day focus the light and put your hand under the bright spot.

        • Birds face a much larger threat from cats, and skyscrapers than from CSP even if every country in the world had them.

          “Window strikes – estimated to kill 97 to 976 million birds/year ”

          It sounds like you haven’t put any thought in your conclusions at all, which are clearly based off watching Fox News.

          • Michaelinlondon1234

            Just start thinking of its effects on the environment. 9000+ years of cutting down forests and shaping the landscape to our needs. We have made some great deserts. In the 50’s the US tried fracking for gas with nukes. I am just asking you to think about all the environmental effects of a given technology. Are they worth the science ..I think so. But wide deployment needs environmental modelling. I am a fan of photovoltaics on buildings. But not on fields. Zero energy buildings…Great
            So what happens if we have a mini ice age? Caused by volcanic activity.
            I do not watch much American News. They forget their history. The mistakes they have made etc.

          • Concentrated Solar Power towers have among the lowest environmental footprints of any technology. They used less land, and only require the use of steel and glass.


            There is not that much environmental modelling done yet, that can only happen after wide scale deployment, not before. There is no information to base any decision on in the absence of hard info.

            The cost of fossil fuels is heavy. The cost in lives of air pollution and enormous cost of climate change make any alternative better.

          • Michaelinlondon1234

            I live in London I have millions of burnt av gas dumped on my head every year along with the rest of the population. We dump millions of litres of untreated sewage in to the Thames every year.
            I do know what pollution is.
            I know what CSP is…
            Do you know what a zero energy building is?

          • What? Directly dumping avgas on your head?

            Photovoltaic has limited room to power a nations energy needs. Cities are a lousy place to put solar panels in addition.

            Deserts are a much better location. In addition, CSP can produce power for 24 hours a day, while PV can’t. Batteries only last 1-2 hours at most.


            PV faces issues with toxicity while CSP needs much less land and is made from glass and steel. It has a smaller environmental footprint as compared to the cost of photovoltaic.

          • Michaelinlondon1234

            Read what I said a bit more closely.
            So do you sell CSP?
            This is a lie or at best a part truth
            “PV faces issues with toxicity” Quoting you.
            It depends on the ingredients.
            “smaller environmental footprint” Quoting you is a lie if the photovoltaics and Solar hot water heating are built in to a new building or ware house roof. There is no environmental footprint other than the space the building occupies.
            “Batteries only last 1-2 hours at most.” is a lie.
            It depends on use. they can last for years as you very well know.
            The best example is the electronic/Solar calculator. Or watches with built in solar. No reason a house can not be built with the same concept.
            What you have done is give me the propaganda used to promote sales for a particular product with out thinking about what you write. To be fair I do actually like CSP. It has its place in society.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Feed-in tariffs are a transfer, not a cost.
    Feed-in tariffs are a transfer, not a cost.
    Feed-in tariffs are a transfer, not a cost.
    Repeat until it sinks in.
    If you don’t know what I’m going on about, I’ll explain by example: Let’s say Allotta has five apples. If Johnny takes two of those apples and gives them to Fridoon then that is a transfer. The total amount of apples stays the same and has not decreased. Allotta has two less apples than she started with and Fridoon has two more. They may or may not be happy with that transfer, but the total number of apples stays the same. They are just as apple rich as before the transfer. But if Johnny instead took two apples off Allotta and ate them, then that would be a cost. Johnny would have had the pleaure of consuming two apples, but they now have two apples less. So if the government takes money off Allotta and gives it to Fridoon as a feed-in tariff that is a transfer. Apart from the small deadweight loss of collecting and transferring the money, the total amount of money in the society stays the same. But if instead the government takes the money off Allotta and gets drunk off it, then that is a cost as society is down the money it took off Allotta as it has been flushed through the government’s kidneys.

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    • danielistical

      garbage in garbage out,,,garbage in garbage out ,,,that is what right wing propaganda is all about,,,,,,your silly little story has nothing to do with the subject matter at hand does it,,,,,,?

      • Ronald Brakels

        Well, if you like you can take a guess at how it is related to the subject and I’ll let you know if you are right or not.

  • danielistical

    has killed ,,,is killing and will kill a million people some of them are not
    even born yet,, Chernobyl won’t be fit for human habitation
    for at least another 20,000 years,


    Japan is going to be worse, they have three

    Specifically, the cesium 137 in Chernobyl’s
    soils isn’t decaying as fast as its 30-year half-life. Or as fast as we once
    thought it might based on theoretically accelerated dispersal rates in the

    • Aku Ankka

      And this is somehow related to this article how?

  • danielistical

    Germany Sets New Record, Generating 74
    Percent Of Power Needs From Renewable Energy

    impressive streak of milestones continued on Sunday, with renewable en…See

    ….. Paraguay produces 100%
    of its electricity from hydroelectric dams, …”

    Arabia is the number one investor in solar power,,,,think maybe they know
    something we dont”t

    Saudi Arabia aims to
    be world’s largest renewable energy …

    Arab News

    Jul 18, 2013 – Saudi Arabia aims to become the
    world’s foremost market for renewable energy with an aggressive investment
    budget of $109 billion. By 2032 …

    Saudi Arabia Investing $109 Billion Into Solar
    Energy ……/saudi-arabia-investing-109-billion-into-solar-energ…

    by James Ayre – Nov 25, 2012 – Saudi Arabia is
    planning to invest $109 billion into solar energy, looking to develop a solar
    industry that can provide 1/3 of its electricity by 2032 …

  • Matt

    Happy to see more countries embrace renewable power! Matt – Simple Business Electricity