Majority of Spain’s Electricity Comes from Fuels

Majority of Spain’s Electricity Comes from Fuels

In 2018, the total amount of electricity produced in Spain was 274.452 Terawatt hours (TWh), as outlined in Table 1 below. The main electricity sources in the country are nuclear (20.3%), wind (18.5%), solar photovoltaic (2.9%) and solar thermal (1.7%), hydraulics (13.7%) and fuels (43.05%). The main types of fuels include anthracite, biogas, blast furnace gas, coke gas, fuel oil, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas, municipal waste, natural gas, bituminous coal, petroleum coke, refinery gas, biomass, sub coal-bituminous and others.

Table 1 shows the amount of imported and exported electrical energy in which the total energy imported into the country (24 TWh) corresponds to twice the quantity that is exported (12 TWh). In addition, Table 1 indicates that the final consumption of electricity has registered a slight decrease from 246.657 TWh in 2017 to 246.313 TWh in 2018. This change represents a reduction of 0.14%, thus cutting the path of increasing energy consumption in recent years (Table 2).

Table 1. Total gross production in 2018

Total gross production TWh
Total 274.452
Own uses 10.625
Total net production 263.827
Total import (Balance) 24.018
Total export (Balance) 12.916
Pumping in pure pumping plants 2.051
Pumping in mixed plants 1.148
Electricity/heat supply 271.730
Distribution Losses 25.417
Final Consumption (Calculated) 246.313

Table 2. Electricity consumption trending over the last 10 years

Year TWh Variation compared to 2018
2018 246.657
2017 246.313 -0.14%
2016 233.936 +5.2%
2015 232.081 +5.6%
2014 227.635 +7.7%
2013 232.001 +5.6%
2012 240.248 +2.4%
2011 243.508 +1.2%
2010 249.051 -1.2%
2009 243.830 +1.2%
2008 257.118 -4.4%

Law 24/2013 aims to regulate the electricity sector in order to guarantee the supply of electricity and to adapt it to the needs of consumers in terms of safety, quality, efficiency, objectivity, and transparency at minimum cost. Additional laws that govern the use of energy include:

  • Law 54/1997 which supports the use of solar and wind energy.
  • Law 22/1973 of Mines that supports the use of geothermal energy.
  • Law 9/200 which governs electric energy production using photovoltaic solar technology and regulates electricity production from solar thermoelectric and wind technologies.
  • Law 2/2011 on Sustainable Economy which sets out a set of national energy consumption standards.

Electric Sector Policy I: PAREER II/Aids Program for Energy Retrofit of Existing Buildings

The objective of this program is to improve the energy efficiency of thermal envelope and lighting installations. In addition, it aims to replace conventional energy with solar thermal and geothermal energies. Implemented by the Institute for Diversification and Saving of Energy (IDEA by its acronym in Spanish) this program supports the actions that improve the building’s total energy rating by at least one letter measured on the carbon dioxide emissions scale (kg CO2/m2 year), with respect to the building’s initial energy rating.

The beneficiaries of the program are owners of existing buildings intended for any use, provided they have legal personality of a private or public nature. The communities of owners or groups of communities of owners of residential buildings for housing use constitute Horizontal Property.

Electric Sector Policy II: FEDER-POCS 2014-2020/ Singular projects for local entities to promote the transition to a low-carbon economy

The projects aims to achieve a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions through the following actions: improve the energy efficiency of infrastructure and services, create sustainable urban mobility, use thermal renewable energy, and reducing electrical personal consumption.

The program prioritizes four main aspects; supporting the transition to a low carbon economy, through:

  • Energy efficiency; housing and public infrastructure; production, distribution and use of renewable energies; support for sustainable multimodal urban mobility; and research and innovation in low-carbon technologies.
  • Sustainable transport, through: investment in railways; improvement of regional mobility by supporting rail interconnections and modal nodes; improved interoperability and noise reduction.
  • Sustainable and integrated urban development.
  • Improved water quality.

Electric Sector Policy III: Renewable energy auctions (2017)

The auction was aimed at all kind of technologies and defined various types of baseline installations for wind technology, Photovoltaic technology, and more in order to set up the specific remuneration.

The Spanish Ministry of Energy, Tourism, and the Digital Agenda allocated 5,037 MW of renewable energy generation capacity in the auction. Of this capacity, the ministry specified, 3,909 MW to be for large-scale solar power plants, while another 1,128 MW to come from wind power projects. The largest share of solar project was achieved by Cobra—a unit of Spanish industrial group ACS with 1.55 GW of assigned projects—followed by X-Elio (455 MW), Endesa (338 MW), Forestalia (316 MW), Gas Natural Fenosa (250 MW), Solaria Energía (250 MW), Prodiel (182 MW), Greenalia (133 MW) Alter (50 MW), Gestamp Wind (24 MW) and Alten (13 MW).

Electric Sector Policy IV: Renewable energy capacity auction

This policy aims to provide a remuneration scheme for new facilities for the production of electricity from biomass in the peninsular electricity system and for wind technology facilities.

The renewal of existing wind power (or the incorporation of new power) has been considered appropriate given that there is a significant contingent of facilities located in areas with high wind resources whose renewal could involve a significant increase in the energy produced. In the same way, the incorporation of new power from biomass thermal installations has been considered due to the management capacity they contribute to the system and because of their interest as a vector of development of local biomass markets for their joint use in thermal uses.

In recent years, policies, such as those above, have been established, that foster the production of renewable energy. As a result, Spain holds a leading position on the world rankings for the generation of various renewable energy types. The country is the second-placed country in Europe in terms of wind power generation and the fourth worldwide in terms of installed power. It is the fifth-placed country in Europe in terms of installed solar photovoltaic power and eighth-placed worldwide. It has the largest installed capacity of solar thermal energy in the world, with commercially operating power plants in the four available technologies: tower, enclosed-parabolic trough, Fresnel, and dishes. It is sixth-placed in the European Union for primary energy production from biomass. It is third-placed in the European Union for installed hydroelectricity. It has the second-highest number of renewable energy patents per inhabitant in the world (behind Germany and ahead of the USA). The company with the largest installed photovoltaic capacity in the world is Spanish. The leading companies in the thermoelectricity sector are also Spanish.


Public interventions like auctions remain necessary to make certain renewable energy technologies competitive. It is estimated that if Spain wants to meet the 2030 objectives of (1) reducing GHG emissions by 40% and (2) improve energy efficiency by at least 27%, then renewable energies must constitute at least 27% of final electricity and the government will have to plan new auctions. Through auctions, the successful bidders have the opportunity to ensure a minimum profitability for the projects throughout their useful life. It is a mechanism that provides an incentive to invest on the project’s CAPEX (€/MW) so that it always achieves this reasonable profitability.


Sara Aagesen, Secretary of State for Energy

Address: Madera 8, 28004-Madrid

Phone: 913 146 673


This post was submitted by Spain Country Manager Wendy Paredes.

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