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Spanish Renewables Set Record

Spanish flag above solar panels and wind turbines
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: May 31, 2023
3 minutes read

Earlier in the month, Spain set a new record for their renewable energy generation. On Tuesday 16th May, the country produced 100% of its energy demand through renewables for a period of 9 hours. Not only did this beat its previous record, but it sets a good picture for the country’s future.

Even more amazingly, this period of renewable coverage happened on a weekday when demand was higher. Not only this, but three of the county’s seven nuclear reactors were offline at the time. It’s hoped that Spain will have decommissioned three reactors by 2030. Surplus energy was able to be exported to neighbouring countries, including France, Portugal and Morocco.

Droughts in the country have reduced the amount of energy able to be generated through hydropower, but wind and solar were able to pick up the slack and produce enough to cover Spain’s needs for a record-breaking amount of time. The country has increased its production of solar panels in recent years, having grown their stock over 23% between 2021 and 2022.

In terms of other renewables, Spain had an impressive 30GW of wind power and 17GW of hydropower at the end of 2022. Their grid saw an addition of 6.2GW of solar and wind power combined last year as well, proving to other countries that it is possible to pave the way for demand structured in renewable energy.

“What is relevant is that this is not something cyclical, but on the way to being structural, both because of the fall in demand and, above all, because of the increase in photovoltaic generation.”

Natalia Fabra - Professor of Economics at Carlos III University

According to the Spanish newspaper, El País, renewable energy generation exceeding the country’s demand will happen time and time again in the future. The advantages of this are twofold: a lower carbon footprint and lower energy bills. Not only will the country reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and save tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, they will also save their citizens hundreds on their energy bills.

Cheaper, renewable energy produced during daylight hours drives down prices, making everyone happy. This also opens up the doors for further infrastructure to be developed in storage, transport, industry and heating. It begs the question as to how much further Spain will have transformed itself in three to five years when even more renewables will have been built and connected to the grid.

The UK should look to Spain for inspiration in this matter as they have upped their renewable generation in such a short space of time, while Britain is lagging behind. Not only has investment in renewable technology fallen in recent years, but there are long delays in completed projects being connected to the grid.

As a matter of urgency, the UK government should improve the speed in which energy generation can connect and provide power to the grid, which is still in its outdated form. It’s believed that as many as 1,100 completed projects are still waiting to be connected.

Spurred on by Spain's example? Why not get solar panels installed at your home?