A fortnight ago Spain was lashed by strong winds but on the Thursday of that week the nation’s electricity generating windmills produced a record amount of power.
Supporters of the renewable energy industry say this just shows its importance to Spain and the need to match sometimes unpredictable power supply with demand.
According to the National Grid at around 11.00 on the Thursday Spain’s windmills were producing 11,203MW – the highest output ever – equivalent to 29.5 per cent of the nation’s demand at that time. For much of the day, wind was Spain’s single largest source of electricity. Before dawn, when demand was low, wind turbines contributed up to 42 per cent of electricity supply.
Luis Atienza, Red Eléctrica’s chief executive, stated recently that wind power generation no longer played a minor role in meeting Spain’s energy needs. Over a 12-month period, wind already supplies about 12 per cent of Spain’s electricity, more than hydropower and with the expansion of wind parks that share will increase.
Spain’s Iberdrola is the world’s biggest wind energy generator by installed capacity. Last Thursday it reported that this winter had been produced strong winds that contributed to a 37 per cent increase in the company’s domestic electricity production from this sector.
The European Wind Energy Association said that in 2008 more wind power capacity was installed in the European Union than any other power source. Of the 23,851MW of new EU capacity, 36 per cent was wind, 29 per cent gas and 18 per cent solar photovoltaic cells.
In a blog in January I reported that the Asociación de Promotores y Productores de Energías Renovables en Andalucía (Aprean) believes that in the next five years some 105,000 jobs could be created in Andalucía over and above the 25,000 that already exist through the creation of wind parks. Hence wind power could both be a major source clean energy and employment.
I was once told that the strong prevailing winds that blow through Almería are known as the “suicide winds” because they caused severe depression amongst the local people. If that is indeed true then we shall have to re-evaluate that ill wind.