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
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).