- Main article: Renewable energy in Spain
Spain is one of the three world’s largest users of wind power with an installed capacity of 15,515 MW at January 2008. In 2007, wind farms accounted for almost 10% of the electricity generated in Spain.
On particular windy days, wind power generation has surpassed all other electricity sources in Spain, including nuclear. Wind farms are known as parques eólicos in Spain, eólico being an adjectival form of Aeolus. On April 18, 2008 the all time peak for wind generation was seen (10,879 MW, 32% of Spain's power requirement).
Wind power is an important energy source in Spain because the Spanish government has sanctioned a green energy approach to guarantee an increase in the country’s wind generation capacity, with aspirations to install a total of 20.1 GW of wind power by 2010. The approaches of energy deregulation that have been initiated in Spain recently are generating noteworthy developments within the energy sector. Multilateral cooperation for involvement in wind power production throughout Europe has created investment prospects for the industry and lower energy costs due to the efficiency of the renewable energy source and its domestic availability.
Increases in installed wind power capacity in recent years in Spain is shown in the Table below. 
|Year|| Installed Wind |
| Electricity production|
by wind power
in that year (GW·h)
|Installed windpower capacity (MW)|
|3||Castile and León||2,253|
|Spain total (MW)||12,800|
The intended wind energy capacity to be installed in the autonomous regions by 2010-2011 consists of 20,000 MW.
“Spain is currently undergoing a renewable-energy revolution, with the Navarre region set to be the first in Europe to be self-sufficient in renewable energy”. The US rating agency Standard & Poors, in a current investigation of standard of living in Europe, ranked Navarre, whose primary source of renewable energy is wind power, uppermost among the 17 autonomous regions of Spain. Navarre, Europe’s sixth largest producer of wind power, currently sustains approximately 70 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources, wind farms being used most extensively, and has a 900-megawatt capacity of installed wind power, ranking it ahead of the UK, Sweden, and France.
Navarre lacks thermal, nuclear, coal, oil, gas fields, or hefty hydro-electric power stations, but does possess considerable renewable resources, which the Government of Navarre pursued to drop its foreign energy dependence. “Navarre’s economic success is a function of its small population (only 500,000 people), low unemployment, rich agricultural traditions, and most recently, a boom in rural tourism”.
Navarre was entirely reliant on imported energy until wind-power development and utilization began progress in 1996. Now, with its own renewable energy companies, such as Navarre Hydroelectric, projects are underway including the proposal of building the biggest offshore wind power production facility in the world in southwestern Spain on the spot of the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. The location contains shallow water levels that would accommodate an offshore wind farm while taking advantage of the widespread winds to produce power sufficient for 750,000 homes. “However, the plan has enraged historians who claim that the area is a war grave and that any development of the area could destroy archaeological evidence of the historic battle”.
Galicia currently leads wind power development in the autonomous regions for the third consecutive year with an increase in wind power of 264 MW, succeeding Castilla La Mancha, which exceeded the development goal of 1000 MW, and followed by Aragon, Navarre, and Castile-Leon, and the remaining autonomous regions. Castilla Leon and La Rioja have initiated wind energy production, and the north-eastern area of Soria also holds the capacity to be an efficient producer; the possession of workable resources for wind power development is also represented in the Cantabrian, eastern and south-eastern coasts.
Largely concerned with advancing energy efficiency use in Spain, the Institute for Energy Saving and Diversification (IDEA) also seeks to expand renewable energy sources and energies. “If Spain meets its goal of generating 30 percent of its electricity needs from renewable power by 2010, with half of that amount coming from wind power, it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 77 million tons”.
Research concerning the production of hydrogen from the use of water by a wind farm is occurring at a newly installed laboratory in the Universidad Pública de Navarra under an agreement between Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra, Stuart Energy Systems of Canada, and Statkraft of Norway. The lab will replicate the power generation environment of a wind farm and examine the effects of an electrolyzer. “An initial phase of the experiment will utilize a budget of 180,000 euro, with later phases evaluating the use of hydrogen in public buses in the city of Pamplona, and a wind turbine designed specifically for hydrogen production”.
Wind power industryEdit
“The business framework for the installed capacity of wind power in the Autonomous Regions was made up of more than 170 companies that included manufacturers (wind turbines, blades, towers, generators, multipliers, electrical equipment, etc.), suppliers (hydraulic and electrical equipment and equipment for controlling and regulating), mechanical construction and public works companies, installation companies and maintenance, exploitation, and engineering companies in 2003”.
“Spanish companies are leading the way in turbine innovation by increasing the size of turbines while reducing turbine weight, and are also developing new technologies to take advantage of wind changes and split-second power outages”.
The Spanish wind energy sector now hosts the involvement of over 500 companies, with approximately 150 wind turbine production plants and their machinery across the Spanish regions. The assets of the Spanish industry are being noticed and acted upon by financial analysts, as United States Ernst and Young in 2005 ranked the wind market in Spain among the uppermost in its index of “long-term country attractiveness”. Including those indirectly employed in supplying components and services, the total number of jobs supported by Spain’s wind industry has reached more than 30,000, and is estimated to double to 60,000 by 2010” (2005).
“Navarra’s engineering group, Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica, the second-largest global wind turbine manufacturer, currently manufactures and exports nearly 20 percent of the world’s wind turbines, and is aiming to become a market leader in Britain’s renewable energy sector through its local subsidiary, Gamesa Energy UK”. The company values the distinctive geographical setting of Spain as a benefit to Spanish companies competing in the global arena. Gamesa Eólica currently operates plants in Spain, The US and China. It has projects in many other parts of the world including Egypt, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, and Portugal. Gamesa opened a manufacturing plant for wind turbine generator blades in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2005, creating 500 part-time building and operations jobs and 236 permanent manufacturing jobs; the building, operation, and upkeep of Gamesa’s wind farms, in conjunction with its two Philadelphia offices and production plant, formed about 1,000 jobs in the state over a five-year period. The company seeks expansion into Greece, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
Acciona Energy (Acciona Energía), the biggest global wind-park developer, currently operates in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Morocco, Spain, and the United States. The company credits its success to its initial stages in Navarre during 1994. Its line of work involves wind-farm operation, turbine manufacture, and the development of wind-power plants, and the company intends to expand into China, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
According to Cohn et al., “Iberdrola, Spain’s No. 2 utility, set up its first wind farm in 2000 and overtook FPL Energy of Florida in 2004 as the world’s largest wind farm operator” (2005). Iberdrola currently holds functioning facilities in Brazil, France, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom, and is continuing to develop wind farms in Europe and Latin America.
As of 2008, Iberdrola plans to develop six offshore wind farm projects with a combined generation capacity of 3000 MW at locations off the coasts of the Spanish Atlantic provinces of Cadiz, Huelva and the Mediterranean province of Castellon.
The national Spanish wind energy industry has begun to export its wind generators by forming contracts for the erection of wind farms in China, India, and Mexico, as well as Cuba, where work began in 1998 (2007). They also have contracts at a highly developed stage with Portugal, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Brazil, and Argentina.
Ecotecnia, the second largest Spanish manufacturer focused on decreasing the weight of its wind turbines, currently manages wind production facilities in Cuba, France, India, Japan, Portugal, and Spain. The company plans on expanding operations into China and Italy, and was one of the original companies to put in a wind-power generator in Spain. The existing wind energy capacity for major companies in Spain is the following: Gamesa Eólica, 3281 MW; Made, 803 MW; Neg Micon, 715 MW; Ecotècnia, 446 MW; G. Electric, 343 MW; Izar-Bonus, 317 MW; Desa & AWP, 121 MW; Enercon, 58 MW; Lagerwey, 38 MW; and Others, 113 MW (2007).
According to Graber, an area of needed improvement for the wind power sector includes “more-detailed prediction of meteorological information that could increase efficiency of wind turbines, allowing electric companies and wind-farm operators to predict with a high level of accuracy when wind will pick up and slow down” (2005). Additionally, three factors will control the further progress of wind power development in Spain: the capability of the wind farms network to hold all the electricity harnessed by wind power, predominantly in off-peak times, the cost of energy, and the environmental effect that the abundance of wind farm development in Spain could turn out. The Spanish wind power industry will be confronted with the following issues in the immediate future:
- formulating its development to be congruent with required supply agreements by the national electricity supply operator
- guaranteeing that the installation of wind farms occurs with recognition of the environment
- synchronizing wind power development of the 17 autonomous regions
- trimming down the investment costs to acquire sufficient returns with declining energy prices in the upcoming years.
It is also noteworthy that the supportive Spanish policies for wind power development have resulted in severe competition for construction sites among major companies. Political leaders in the autonomous communities have been frazzled by the numerous applications for wind farm construction. Additionally, according to Toke et al., “one in five applications receives significant opposition from local wildlife conservation groups, accounting for considerable delays, and the planning for specific schemes is the preserve of the regional governments” (2007). Finally, local possession of wind power is not present in Spain, but does not appear to take away from further development of wind power in Spain since a much smaller and weaker quantity of local anti-wind farm grid population inhabits the country.
“Sustained and robust expansion in Spain, a result of recent efforts to clarify policy structures, the offshore sectors in the UK and Germany, both of which are gaining serious momentum, and growth in newer markets, such as Italy, France, and Portugal, combine to create positive growth prospects for the industry, resulting in record level investments that will be well in excess of Euro 30 billion through 2010”. However, a further obstacle concerning wind power development needs to be tackled before Spain can achieve these ambitious objectives: construction of a central control center for all the Spanish wind farms, analogous to the control center used for traditional power plants. “Because a great amount of wind power is generated in northern Spain, a stronger connection to France and the rest of Europe to better manage power surges and dips is paramount”.
According to Cohn et al., “On Spain’s Atlantic coast, bird lovers, fisherfolk, and tourism officials have joined forces to oppose the creation of offshore wind farms, claiming that they wreak havoc on birds’ migratory patterns, obstruct navigation channels, and blight the coastline” (2005).
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