Success of Wind Energy in Spain

Véase la versión en español de este artículo sobre la energía eólica en España

March, 2013


If he were attacking windmills today, Don Quixote would have his work cut out for him.  On February 4th, 2013 The Guardian announced that Spain had tipped the scales in favor of green electricity.  For the first time, the Southern European nation’s wind energy production exceeded that of any other single source in its energy portfolio.

The Wind Energy Association of Spain has gone on record to state that wind farms across the country produced over 6,000,000 megawatt hours of electricity in the month of January alone, or nearly 25% of its total energy output.   Private entities endeavor, amid a financial crisis, to multiply this success by developing offshore wind farms as well.  While Spain has also made great strides in harnessing solar energy, the sun accounts for less than 4% of the country’s energy production.  Other important energy sources include nuclear power, and imported oil, natural gas and coal.Meanwhile the United States, despite a high return on investment in wind farms, appears to be losing its appetite for wind energy. Demand for wind energy technology in U.S. has fallen to near zero after federal production tax credits (PTCs) expired in 2012.   Although congress tentatively renewed the credits in January, the market remains wary, and the investment in wind turbines, and the thousands of American jobs related to it, appears for the moment to be entirely dependent on the tax credits. This is somewhat true in Spain, where government support of renewable energy has succumbed to the global financial crisis, and new wind projects have slowed considerably.

To compare the resources, the land of Don Quixote occupies a land area smaller than Texas, yet it produces two thirds more wind energy than the entire U.S.   Domestic turbines crank out nearly 120,000,000 megawatts annually, or less than 3 percent of our national energy needs.   Add that to solar and geothermal, renewable sources in the U.S. make up 13 percent of all U.S. energy production. With nineteen times the land area and nearly nine times the population, United States residents consume an energy total that is fourteen times that of Spain.

Windfarms break energy record in Spain,, Monday 4 February 2013
Laura, DiMugnio, Congress Passes Wind Energy PTC Extension As Part Of Fiscal-Cliff Deal, North American Wind Power, 02 January 2013

Special thanks to Ignacio Cruz Cruz, Head of Wind Energy Unit, RES Division, Department of Energy, Government Center for Research on Energy, Technology and the Environment, Spain

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