Spanish wind laments 'darkest year' as zero added in 2015

The Spanish wind industry labelled 2015 its “darkest year” after not a single megawatt of capacity was added to the country’s turbine fleet.

The blank 12 months for installations follows several years of dwindling additions under a reformed energy system that imposed drastic changes to support for renewables.

Spain’s wind capacity remains stuck at 22.99GW – still one of Europe’s largest cumulative capacities, but one that has seen only 1.9GW added in the last four years.

Spanish wind industry body AEE said: “The year 2015 has closed as the darkest in the history of wind energy in Spain, with zero megawatts installed. This has not happened since the 1980s.”

Wind accounted for 19.4 of power consumption in Spain last year on production of 47.72TWh – a 5.8% drop on 2014’s figure – said AEE, quoting figures from Spanish network operator REE.

The Spanish government earlier this month took steps to kick-start the country’s stalled renewables sector with an auction for 700MW of capacity, including 500MW of wind power.

That process was criticised by AEE and others as flawed and too small to propel Spain towards its 2020 renewable energy targets.

AEE said the country will need to add 6.4GW of wind to meet those binding goals, and urged the government to swiftly bring forward an auction schedule for the 5.9GW still required.

It wants rules changed that allow the Spanish regulator to tinker with returns from installed plants, a move it said has undermined investor confidence.

The AEE said: “The installation of more than 6GW of wind power in four years has been done in Spain in previous periods due to factors such as a favourable regulation, developers’ will, and the existence of a strong domestic industry.

“This means that if certain aspects of the regulation were modified to recover the confidence of investors and facilitate access to financing, it could be attempted again.”