Data Provided on Renewable Energy Generation and Consumption by Red Electrica
Following the European Green Deal, which has set binding targets for EU member states to reach by 2030, Spain has drawn considerable attention with its ambitiously laid out National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) 2021-2030, committing to overachieve an expected 32% share of renewables in energy by 2030 by an additional ten percentage points.
Spain has shown promising growth in its share of final energy consumption supplied with renewables during the last decade, fostering a steady 7.2% expansion from 2010 and reaching an overall 21.2% share by 2020. However, a remarkable effort will be needed to double its capacity to achieve its bold 2030 pledge of 42%.
EU member states’ data on renewable energy capacity is available quarterly, found on Eurostat. However, Red Eléctrica, a partly state-owned corporation that operates the national energy grid in Spain, publishes monthly press releases that provide a comprehensive overview of sources of electricity generation, providing an in-depth insight into Spain’s domestic growth of renewable capacity.
According to data published by Red Eléctrica, Spain has bolstered efforts in expanding both its generation and installed renewable capacity for electricity. 2021 saw a 9.9% increase in generation compared to the year before, allowing Spain to reach a 46.6% share of electricity satisfied by renewables. Solar photovoltaic generation rose by a remarkable 37.7% compared to 2020, tripling its capacity since 2018 and now accounting for 8.1% of the total electricity mix. With the central government emphasizing the continual expansion of its renewable infrastructure, especially in solar photovoltaic sources, its ambitious 2030 renewable energy consumption pledge is seemingly in clear sight.
As a result of exhibiting an increasing composition of green energy, Spain should, in theory, see a simultaneous dampening in its GHG emissions. Aligning with Climate Scorecards’ efforts to develop proxy measures for GHG emissions, Spain’s miraculous growth in renewables consequently provides a prime indicator to assess whether an expanded renewable capacity can have tangible impacts towards decarbonizing the Spanish economy.
According to data available on Eurostat, which provides quarterly data stretching back to 2016 on percentage changes in GHGs relative to the same period the year before, Spain has followed a similar pattern to Europe’s average. Overall, domestic emissions have been on a slightly subsiding trend in the last decade, culminating in a 28.6% dive during the lockdown period of COVID-19. Since the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in the second quarter of 2021, which allowed tourists to flock to the Spanish coast again, economic activity recovered, bringing a sharp 24.3% rebound in emissions. This was followed by a 10.4% and 11.6 increase in the 4th quarter of 2021 and 1st quarter of this year, respectively.
On the surface, despite accelerated growth in renewable energy capacity, the Spanish economy remains to a certain extent, coupled with economic growth. However, one must tread carefully with scrutiny and take a more holistic overview, accounting for economic rebounds triggered by the mending COVID-19 damaged economy and the uncertainties entangled by the war in Ukraine.
One thing for sure is that Spain is fortunately endowed with the almost never-ending sun, large swaths of uninhabited land, and a windy southern coast that has granted the central government a unique, green opportunity to develop an unhampered arsenal of renewable energy sources. The question remains whether the government has the institutional wit to not only execute its NECP 2021-2030 but to utilize green energy to decarbonize its economy successfully.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Spain Country Manager Sean Lewis