Spain: The 2021 Climate Year in Review

Spain: The 2021 Climate Year in Review


  • Passage of Law 7/2021 on Climate Change and Energy Transition
  • Approval of PERTE ERHA (Proyecto Estratégico para la Recuperación y Transformación Económica de Energías Renovables, Hidrógeno Renovable y Almacenamiento) on Renewable Energy, Renewable Hydrogen and Storage
  • Significant Emissions Reduction, Due to the Pandemic



The main greenhouse emission policies/events in Spain for 2021:

1) Law 7/2021, 7th May 2021, on Climate Change and Energy Transition

This law introduces the required legislation to implement the PNIEC (Plan Nacional Integrado de Energía y Clima) 2021-2030, which is the Spanish national plan to fulfil the EU emissions reduction pledges, and the ELP (Estrategia de Descarbonización a Largo Plazo) 2050, which is the plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

The PNIEC and the ELP are the means by which Spain is supporting the augmented EU pledge of 55% decarbonisation by 2030. The PNIEC stablishes the following main objectives:

  • An absolute reduction of 23% total greenhouse emissions in respect to the 1990 baseline
  • 42% share of renewables in total energy consumption
  • 74% renewables in electricity production
  • Improve energy efficiency 39.5%

The PNIEC was issued the 20th January 2020 and presented to the EU, but its final approbation had been delayed due to the pandemic. The ELP was established to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 thanks to a 90% reduction in emissions and 10% increase in carbon sequestration. The new legislation is expected to give a big push towards the decarbonisation of the Spanish economy.

2) Approval of PERTE ERHA on Renewable Energy, Renewable Hydrogen and Storage

This new legal framework implies a very significant push for the further adoption of renewable energy and the introduction of hydrogen as a significant energy vector. As the share of non-dispatchable renewables (solar photovoltaics and wind) increases every year, a big push has been given by the Spanish government for the adoption of hydrogen as a means to store surplus renewable energy, be injected in the natural gas grid, and use on heavy transport applications in the future.

Renewables constitute 47% of the electricity production mix in 2021, and with 21% nuclear power, it means that 68% of total Spanish electricity production in 2021 has been carbon free. Given the great penetration of non-dispatchable renewable power in Spain, there is a great incentive to generate renewable hydrogen by electrolysis in peak generation hours. Renewable hydrogen can be injected into the gas national grid in order to decarbonise combined cycles and cogeneration cycles, as well as decarbonise low heat residential and industrial usages. Also, hydrogen is seen as means to decarbonise heavy and aerial transportation in the future.

The plan involves injecting 6,900M€ of public funds which are expected to attract additional 9,500M€ of private investment and create 280,000 new highly qualified jobs. It includes the objective to build 4GW of renewable hydrogen generation capacity by 2030, a 10% of the total expected EU capacity. 1,555M€ of public funds will be specifically dedicated to renewable hydrogen, which are expected to generate additional 2,800M€ of private investment.

3) Significant Emissions Reduction Due to the Pandemic

The reduction in CO2 emissions was very strong during 2020 (14% interannual and 6% when compared to the 1990 baseline) but this was clearly due to a significant reduction of GOP after the long lock downs during the first year of the pandemic. But in 2021, with a fast-recovering economy, the interannual increase of emissions has been just 4%, translating into an absolute reduction of 3% relative to the 1990 baseline. This early-stage evaluation of 2021 emissions has been provided by OTEA (Observatorio de la Transición Energética y la Acción Climática), a Basque Country institution tracking emissions, energy transition and climate action. Their report, in Spanish, can be found here.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Spain Country Manager Ricard Pardell


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