After some years of relatively slow growth renewable energies are beginning to take off again in Spain. The new capacities for renewable energy that took place in 2016 and 2017, the competiveness of new technologies and the ambitious objectives of the European Union have created a positive horizon for the clean energy sector in our country.
The latest figures speak for themselves, both in terms of generation and storage and in terms of investment. During 2019, Spain has positioned itself as the second European country that has the most wind energy installations and the country that has invested the most with 2.8 billion euros. In the report ‘Wind Energy in Europe 2019’, by WindEurope, states that our country installed 2.3 GW of new onshore wind energy capacity, which was its highest installation rate since 2009. In the ranking, the country with the largest installation of wind energy capacity was the United Kingdom (2.4 GW, both onshore and offshore), the third largest Germany (2.2 GW, onshore and offshore), followed by Sweden (1.6 GW, all onshore) and France (1.3 GW, also onshore). In terms of onshore wind power alone, Spain led the way in the installation of new wind farms.
Overall, according to WindEurope data, Europe installed 15.4 GW during 2019, of which three quarters came from onshore wind energy and one quarter from offshore. So the continent has a total of 205 GW of this type of energy, which is 15% of all electricity consumption in Europe last year.
With regard to investments in Spain, in 2019 alone, renewable energy transactions increased by 14%, representing a value of 23 billion euros from the 63 transactions registered in the country, according to Mergermarket data analysed by the consultancy firm KPMG. This is a record number of large investments that are closing more and more quickly and are mostly led by investors grouped in platforms specialized in energy and aggregators, classic infrastructure funds and other companies. It is also a very dynamic market, with a lot of money available and the need to invest in renewables, both in those in operation and in development, and not only in wind or photovoltaic – the “classic” renewables – but also in biomass, which will hopefully lead to a strong growth in these type of operations in 2020.
Constant growth and a positive impact on the economy
The positive data regarding wind energy and investments in Spain reinforces the constant growth of renewable energies in our country. In 2018, the green energy sector experienced 10.7% growth, which translated into a contribution of 10.5 billion euros to the national GDP (0.87%), employing 81,924 workers (an increase of 3.3%) and setting a new record for exports (4.7 billion euros). This is what is stated in the Study of the Macroeconomic Impact of Renewable Energies in Spain, by the Association of Renewable Energy Companies (APPA), in the last balance sheet published.
According to the study, renewable energies accounted for 13.9% of our primary energy (8.2% more than in the previous year) and generated 38.1% of our electricity, saving more than 8.5 billion euros in fossil fuel imports and 899 million in emission rights, and contributing more than 1 billion euros to public funds. In the European Union, the increase in renewable energy was 7.8%, reaching 15.5% of total primary energy; a percentage that, at the global level, has stagnated at 10.8%.
In addition to their economic and employment contributions, renewable technologies also prevented the emission of almost 57 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, although oil continues to be the most widely consumed primary energy source in Spain.
A country increasingly committed to sustainability
The push for renewable energies and the commitment to sustainability has permeated Spanish society. According to the study carried out by the market research company Ipsos together with the World Economic Forum, our population has changed its consumption habits by 76% in order to mitigate the effects of climate change, which places it in eighth place in the ranking, ahead of nations such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden and New Zealand.
The main aspects in which the Spanish have varied their behaviour to a greater extent are related to a lower expenditure of water and energy, recycling and reusing products and using energy efficient domestic appliances. But there is still considerable room for improvement in regard to the use of non-polluting means of transport and in the promotion of public transport.
This concern is also reflected in a Pew Research Center study, which found that 81% of Spaniards believe that climate change is a serious threat to the planet. This opinion is also reflected in the report How the Spanish View Climate Change by the Royal Elcano Institute, which confirms that our environmental awareness is medium to high and that 97% believe that climate change exists (and, of these, 92% believe that human beings are responsible).
- Study of the Macroeconomic Impact of Renewable Energies in Spain – Asociación de Empresas de Energías Renovables (APPA)
- Renewables transactions in Spain increased by 14% in 2019 – Expansión
- ‘Wind energy in Europe in 2019 – WindEurope
- Climate change and consumer behaviour – Ipsos
- A look at how people around the world view climate change – Pew Research Center
- How the Spanish view climate change – Royal Elcano Institute