Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lessons from Renewable Energy in Spain

Greetings from the Australian National University, in Canberra, whereProfessor Cayetano López, Director General of CIEMAT Professor Cayetano López, Director General of CIEMAT, is speaking on "Renewable Energy in Spain: Technology and Politics". He started by saying how Spain's 75% dependency on fossil fuels, while better than the world average (85%) is not sustainable. He said this needs to change in one or two generations. The problem is to reduce the carbon content of energy sources. The demand for energy is increasing and any reduction in supply will harm the poorest people in developing nations the most. So what is needed is sources of cleaner energy. This will require nuclear power will need to be at least retained, if not increased, despite the potential for accidents. Clean coal is one possibility, but sequestration of CO2is problematic. As a result Professor  López concentrates on forms of renewable energy, which are increasing. The proportion of hydro electricity in Spain is reducing, whereas wind energy and solar energy are increasing. Spain was aiming for 20% renewable energy by 2020, which is achievable, whereas Germany is aiming for 18%, but is only at about 10%. Spain is third in the world in terms of the proportion of electricity generated by wind power (16%). Denmark has the highest proportion at 27%, but as Professor López pointed out, Denmark can send any excess to the German grid. Spain has a health wind power equipment industry. The third largest company ACCIONA has a wind farm in Gunning NSW. Most other major wind power companies are Chinese. Professor López described a "PV Bubble" in Spain due to government incentives, which caused a sudden increase in installations, which has now ended (due to end of government subsidy). Most of the Spanish PV installations are ground mounted, not on buildings as in Australia. 

The recent savings measure by the Spanish government have removed subsidies and incentives for renewable energy.  However, the rising price of electricity and lower cost of solar and wind equipment is resulting in new investment based on market prices. This allowed Professor Lópezto finish on a positive note.

The presentation appeared to be an update of "CSP in Spain" presented by Professor  Lópezin 2011.

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