Spain: Climate Progress Indicators

After a decade of meager development in renewables onset by policy miscalculations in 2008, Spain has begun to once again bolster momentum in heeding its Paris Agreement obligations.

Indicator Frequency Data Source Baseline Measurement (July 2019) First Measurement (July 2022)
Monthly electricity demand nationwide (GWh) Monthly RED Electrica 24,283 GWh 23,552 GWh
Total electricity generated by renewable sources as % Monthly RED Electrica 29.8% 37.6%
Wind power generation Monthly RED Electrica 3,330 GWh or 14% of total electricity generation 4,328 GWh or 16.4% of total electricity generation
Solar photovoltaic generation Monthly RED Electrica 995 GWh or 4.1% of electricity generation 3,346 or 12.7% of total electricity generation

The data used for these indicators has been sourced from monthly press releases published by RED Electrica, a partly state-owned cooperation that controls the national electricity grid.

Being a member of the EU, Spain is obliged to carry out a domestic 10-year National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) between the years 2021 and 2030 as a foundational framework toward eventual 97% carbon neutrality by 2050. The plan includes reducing GHGs by 23% relative to its 1990 level, attaining 42% of its total energy and 74% of its electricity produced through renewable sources (a renewable capacity of 122.7 GW), and a 39.5% increase in energy efficiency.

As the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the illusion of climate progress with substantial slowdowns in economic activity, the month of July 2019 has been used as a baseline indicator.

As seen, national electricity demand has remained largely unchanged, with an actual reduction of electricity demand by 731 GWh during the month of July relative to the baseline period. This apparent stagnation must be taken into careful consideration owing to record-breaking prices of electricity onset by the war in Ukraine.

Regarding the percentage of total electricity generated from renewables, there has been an increase of almost 8 % to covering 37.6% of electricity demand, representing a yearly increase of around 2.7% since 2019. Though encouraging, renewable developments will need to be ramped up given Spain’s failure to meet its 2020 target of generating 42% of total electricity by renewables. And to secure its 2030 NECP target of 74%, an annual increase of 5% will need to be reached in the following years.

Though wind-generated electricity has seen an increase of 2.4% relative to the baseline period, considering normal variances of renewable productivity owing to uncertain weather patterns, this increase is modest at best.

The recent strengthening of solar photovoltaic operations has placed Spain as the sixth leading producer worldwide, with the data reflecting the successes by showing a remarkable 336% increase in photovoltaic capacity relative to the baseline period, supporting 12.7% of nationwide electricity generation.

Given Spain’s privileged situational context of having large swaths of uninhabited landscape coinciding with year-round sun, its potential to be a global leader in solar renewables is promising. However, regional management must tread carefully and consider the socioeconomic impacts as there already exist strong opposition campaigns, notably in the province of Aragon where locals remain discouraged by plans to cover 10% of Teruel with renewable energy systems by 2030.

With transport being the largest contributor of C02 in Spain, accounting for almost 30% of national GHG emissions, a future climate progress indicator detailing trends in transport-related CO2 emissions will be considered, data permitting.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Spain Country Manager Sean Grey


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