Spain adds just 175MW wind in 2013

Wind power additions came to a near standstill in Spain last year as still-uncompleted energy reforms spelled brutal cuts to the country’s support system for renewables – and left investors fearing losses due to retroactive measures.

Spain installed just 175MW of new wind capacity last year, down from 1.1GW in 2012 and a similar figure in 2011.

It was the lowest addition in at least 14 years and nudged up the country’s cumulative installed wind capacity to 24.99GW – still one Europe’s highest totals, reveals the data from national wind industry body the AEE.

But in a disastrous scenario for the industry, companies gave up on plans to install a further 928MW at wind parks that had already been approved by the government, fearing the prospect of losses and legal insecurity.

Another 177MW of potential installations already approved remain pending the details of the energy reform as companies hold back decisions to start construction, the AEE says.

The conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last summer announced a series of measures to reform the country’s support system for renewables that still have not been fully enacted, as several elements of legislation and regulation are still awaiting decrees.

Among the measures announced by Rajoy 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 will receive a lower profit in future.

Both the AEE and foreign companies have complained about the retroactive nature of parts of the Spanish energy reform.

“The energy reform dictated by the government eliminates rights acquired by existing installations and imposes a new remuneration system for them,” the AEE laments, adding that the full economic impact of the measures isn’t clear yet as norms to be laid out in a ministerial decree are still missing.

Ironically – and despite the legislative threat – wind power last year for the first time has emerged as Spain’s top source of electricity output, accounting for 20.9% of the country’s electricity consumption, according to recent figures by Spanish TSO Red Eléctrica de España (REE).