Wind leads pack in Denmark, Spain

Wind generation notched-up record highs during 2013 in Denmark and Spain, and was the top source of electricity output in both countries, new figures show.

No country in the world last year had a larger share of wind power output in proportion to the size of its electricity consumption than Denmark, Danish Transmission System Operator (TSO) says, with 33.2% of the country’s electricity use in 2013 coming from wind, up from 30.1% in 2012.

The jump in wind  output came mainly from the commissioning in June of the 400MW Anholt offshore wind farm.

In December, wind power accounted for a record 54.8% of Denmark’s electricity consumption, for the first time exceeding the 50% the country has set as annual target for wind's share by 2020.

During one hour on 1 December, wind actually reached a record share of 135.8% of Denmark’s electricity output.

While Denmark can export excess wind power due to its good power links to neighbouring countries, it doesn’t do so throughout the year. The country actually is a net recipient of electricity, the BDEW, the main lobby group for Germany’s energy sector, says.

Denmark imported 2.9 gigawatt hours more of electricity in 2013 from Germany than it exported, BDEW figures show.

While Denmark reached its wind output records thanks to a very pro-renewables policy by the government in Copenhagen, Spain posted a record of its own despite brutal cuts to renewables support in the Iberian country.

Wind power accounted for 20.9% of Spain’s electricity consumption last year, narrowly beating nuclear which had a share of 20.8%, according to figures by Spanish TSO Red Eléctrica de España (REE).

That made wind the biggest single source of electricity in the country for the first time ever, the Spanish wind power association AEE says.

Wind was the main source of electricity in Spain in January, February, March and in November, the AEE says, adding that Spanish electricity pool prices were considerably lower on days with an abundance of wind power.

Despite the 2013 records, however, the wind sector in Spain has no reason to celebrate, the AEE stressed, as the economic impact of energy reforms can’t be assessed yet.

The conservative government of prime minister Mariano Rajoy during the summer announced a series of measures to reform the country’s support system for renewables. Among them is a switch in the support for renewables from feed-in tariffs (FITs) to a fixed “reasonable profitability” of 7.5%, valid retroactively from 2001 onwards and through to 2026.

Companies that enjoyed greater profitability than that in the past in the future will receive a lower profit.

“Companies start 2014 plunged in judicial insecurity and without the expectation for a future as it will be difficult for investors to dare invest in wind power in this country,” the AEE warned today.

“The retroactivity of the rules included in the energy reform means that operating installations won’t be able to count on the revenue expected when the investments were made.”