Energy in Spain > Environmental Aspects
Environmental Aspects

The 2009 Report suggested that greenhouse gas emissions had dropped in Spain for the second year running. Meanwhile, both the manufacturing and energy sectors are increasing their levels of energy efficiency, thereby reducing primary energy consumption. In 2010, data available for 2010 show a slight descent, due to the use of renewable energies.
This situation brings Spain closer to fulfilling the commitment of the Kyoto Protocol, that vowed to increase emissions in 2010 only by 15% compared to the data for 1990. The approval and development of compensation projects abroad (some 130 projects have been approved) will help to reduce the difference.
In 2007, Spanish emissions exceeded emissions in 1990 by up to 52%.  In late 2009 they were 29% above; and in 2010 they may have dropped a few percentage points.

Energy policies in 2010 focused, among other things, on the role expected of renewable energies in the generation of energy, most specifically their regarding their definition. At the end of June, the Spanish Government submitted the 2011-2020 National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP). Said document sets aims to generate 22.7% of its total energy consumption from renewable sources, 2.7 points above the EU objectives. This surplus will generate a high level of generation premiums (around 3,700 M€) and a lower use of currently operative energy infrastructures, such as combined cycles and gas infrastructures.

A study developed by the consultancy firm Garrigues Medio Ambiente in Spain concluded that gas is a key energy source in the composition of a sustainable energy mix. Specifically, natural gas can reduce emissions by between 76.9% and 84.2% of the Spanish goal, and between 6.4% and 8.8% of the Spanish goal for the improvement of energy efficiency.

Most specialists have agreed that all energies are required to make up Spain's future energy mix, particularly given that Spain has few energy resources. Since differences are usually quite notable, the participation of each energy type should be defined. Advanced countries usually support an efficient system with costs assumable by the production system and domestic economies in energy policy decisions.

As aforementioned, renewable energies have advanced notably in Spain as regards electricity generation. On September 20, the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade published a press release informing that renewable energies had contributed 36% of the electricity generated in Spain to date that year. That same press release informed that the Plan 2000ESE foresees 2,000 public buildings improving their energy efficiency thanks to companies providing energy services.

In the third tender of 2010, which closed in July, the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade noted that 848 new photovoltaic power plants had been added to the list of facilities entitled to remuneration, of the total of 4,100 applications received, which reveals the attractive remuneration framework.  In the fourth tender for 2010, the cap was established at 119.2 MW, with remuneration amounting to 26.68 cents for ground-mount facilities, the most frequent, showing a drop compared to previous tender.

5,163 photovoltaic power plants entitled to remuneration registered during the seven tenders completed until July (in 2009 and 2010), which amount to 863 MW which should be considered alongside the 119 MW from the fourth tender in 2010. This control procedure was established in 2009.

The number of plants registered in the remuneration allocation scheme reveals that by 2013 the plants should generate approximately 2,500 MW using only thermo-electric solar technology, for which Spain is currently the world leader, with almost 500 MW.

At the beginning of July, the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism signed agreements with the wind and thermo-electric solar sectors to revise their remuneration frameworks.  Agreements include short-term measures that will reduce the impact of these technologies on the price of electricity, as well as long-term measures to guarantee the future stability of both sectors (press release from the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism).

On November 23, the Official State Bulletin (BOE, Spanish acronym) published a Royal Decree establishing, among other things, aspects of photovoltaic energies. Premiums will drop between 5% and 45% regarding previous payments. 

The costs of the Spanish electrical system have exceeded the income from tariffs. This deviation has generated a tariff deficit, which has grown to significant proportions. Limits have been set for this deficit for 2010 and forthcoming years. The tariff deficit has been caused mainly by the high cost generated by the boost of new renewable energies. Some specialists have noted that in 2010 solar energy will accumulate 25% of the cost of electricity generation, and will therefore contribute between 3 and 5% of the electricity production.

At the end of 2010, Spain had a wind power supply of approximately 20,676 MW, showing an increase of around 1,500 MW this year. Although in 2010 Spain has experienced a slow-down in new potential (8% increase, the lowest growth rate since 2003), this data places Spain fourth in the world league in terms of installed wind power (behind the US, Germany and China), much above the position Spain holds among consumers of electricity. 

As regards biofuels, the slight delay of the legislation made it difficult to achieve the goal of incorporating 5.83% biodiesel and bioethanol in fuels. As mentioned above, biodiesel power plants set up in Spain present a very low global level of occupation, around 10%, given imports, which have been favoured by tax advantages in the source countries.

As regards environmental issues, some of the projects outlined in 2009 were developed in 2010. For instance, at the end of September, Endesa commenced a project for the construction of an experimental 1 MW plant for CO2, capture next to the La Pereda coal power plant. The technology implemented uses limestone as an absorbent.  The project receives subsidies from the 7th European Framework Programme.

One of the difficulties involved in effectively integrating electricity from renewable sources is the insufficient level of international electricity connections. Pumps and reversible hydrological systems have also been studied over recent years. It is important to increase their capacity to prevent disconnections in the production of electricity from renewable, wind and hydroelectric sources.  In 2010, the electric sector increased this capacity, although the low credit ability may have held back the expected expansion.

Natural gas has played a major role in cogeneration: contributing around 76% of installed power. The figure stands at around 6,500 MW.

Both the European Commission and the Spanish Government share the goal of increasing the role of high efficiency cogeneration. Electricity produced by cogeneration is expected to increase by 50% in Spain, contributing 17% of the Spanish electricity consumption in 2020, some three points above the current rate.

Annual Report 2010
Annual Report 2.010: Sedigas - The Spanish Gas Association