On a windy night in September, whilst most people were sleeping, wind power reached a record of 64.2% of Spain’s electricity demand.
it is true that electricity generation falls significantly through the night,
64% of demand was still generating over 13 GW, none of that was ‘wasted’ power, though some was
exported or stored using hydro-electric pumped storage.
If that electricity had been generated by gas instead of wind, it would be like switching on about six power stations the size of Europe’s largest, the recently completed Pembrokeshire plant in the UK.
Indeed the record output helped push Spanish coal use down by 18% in September, according to figures from Argus media.
|Wind in figures|
record isn’t a one off, in the first 9 months of 2012 renewable energy
generated 31.3% of Spanish electricity demand.
By comparison the UK generated just 9.6% of its electricity from renewable sources, the figure looks especially low especially low when you consider that the UK receives about 40% of Europe’s wind energy resource.
However, wind power in the UK also hit a record on September 14th, 10 days before the Spanish record generation was at 3.98GW - 10% of total electricity demand. That's some way off 64%, but a record none-the-less.
Looking at electricity generated by wind power in 2012, in Spain it has accounted for 17.4% so far, whilst in the UK it accounted for 4.5% during the second quarter of this year.
In Spain solar has also broken through.
So far in 2012 it has generated 5.1% of electricity, including 3.7% from PV and 1.4% from concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power concentrates sunlight through mirrors, to generate enough heat to drive a steam turbine - similar to a conventional power station.
Spain is one of the leading countries in the development CSP with 22 solar thermal power stations, the largest ones have the capacity to generate 150 MW.
Despite Spain starting off 2012 in a drought (possibly brought about by climatic change) hydroelectric power has contributed 7.1% of electricity demand over the year so far.
That is about 20% lower than last year, which reflects the 20% reduction in water held in reservoirs because of the low rainfall.
Spain’s lead, over the UK and most other European countries may be short lived however.
In January the government applied a moratorium to its feed-in-tariff scheme blaming the economic crisis.