Renewable energy in Spain


Renewable Energy in Spain[1]
Renewable Energy (RE)
RE as % of Gross Final Energy Consumption.17.3% (2016)
NREAP target for above:20.0% (2020)
Renewable Electricity
Percentage electricity generated by RE.42.8% (2014)
RE generated / Total electricity generation.111,459/266,867 GWh Net(2014)[2]
Record % RE covered electricity consumption70.4% (21/11/15 wind only)[3]
Installed capacity (2020)
Wind Power26.7 GW
Bio Energy1 GW
Solar Power12.5 GW
Hydro Power20.0 GW
Geothermal0 GW
Total renewable60.2 GW

Spain has set the target of generating 20% of all its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2020[4] and an additional 0.8% may be available for other EU countries under the cooperation mechanism bringing the total to 20.8%.[5] By the end of 2014 Spain had reached a level of 16.2% of all its energy needs from renewable energy sources.[6]


Andasol is the first parabolic trough power plant in Europe, and Andasol 1 went online in March 2009. Because of the high altitude (1,100 m) and the semi-arid climate, the site has exceptionally high annual direct insolation of 2,200 kWh/m2 per year.
PS10 solar power plant

Electricity from renewable sources in Spain represented 42.8% of electricity demand coverage during 2014. The country has a very large wind power capability built up over many years and is one of the world leaders in wind power generation.

Initially Spain also positioned itself as a European leader in solar power, by 2007-2010 the country was second only to Germany in installed capacity, however other countries (Italy in particular) have since leapfrogged Spanish development. By 2015 solar power in Spain though significant produced less than a third of that of wind power in 2015.[citation needed]

The story of renewable energy development in Spain is both a mixed and unfinished one. Under previous subsidies the country expanded its renewable base rapidly and helped establish a domestic industry in both wind turbine and solar energy. However, support was drastically cut back following the global financial crisis and new installations stagnated between 2012 and 2015. The debts incurred during the boom period have led to tougher and retrospective revisions of contracts to providers of renewable energy reducing returns considerably. In being one of the first-to-market countries, Spain faces the challenge of powerful competitors from countries such as Denmark, Germany and China and ironically a cheaper and more mature renewable energy sector which Spain itself helped to pioneer.[citation needed]

In 2015 solar power suddenly demonstrated a possible way through the impasse. The continued fall in prices for solar systems and Spain's abundant sunshine led to prices for solar power reaching grid price parity. Suddenly there was the potential for sustained and spontaneous growth in solar installations in Spain as households and producers could produce power more economically. However the Spanish government introduced what has been dubbed the world's first "sun tax" on solar installations making them economically less viable as well as draconian fines (up to 60 million Euros) for anyone not complying with the tax.[citation needed]

The tax has proved highly controversial. On the one hand the government has argued that those generating their own power still rely on the national grid for power backup and so should be liable for contributing to the cost. On the other hand, the solar industry has argued that the government is simply trying to protect the centralised established power producers whose revenues would be threatened by this competitive solar threat. Environmentalists have criticised the tax for artificially blocking Spain from continuing its long standing movement to renewable energy production.[citation needed]

Whatever the merits of both arguments, the controversy can only become more heightened as the price of solar energy continues to fall and if PV solar power installed capacity in Spain were to continue sliding down the EU league from 12th position in 2014 (102.9 kW per 1000 inhabitants). In the same year in terms of wind energy production Spain was much stronger in 3rd position (495 kW per 1000 inhabitants).[citation needed]

In November 2018 the Government of Pedro Sánchez took the first step repealing the so-called 'sun tax', approved by the previous Government of Mariano Rajoy in 2015. With the new regulation, Spain leaves behind the era of punishment for self-consumption energy production which froze solar power and renewable energy development for many years in the face of EU and national controversy.[7] A new chapter of opportunity is finally returning to the renewable energy sector in Spain.

Energy consumption by sector

Projected total gross final energy consumption by sector in 2020 (calculated as per NREAP criteria.)

  Heating and cooling (32.5%)
  Electricity (33.6%)
  Transport (33.9%)

All EU countries as well as Iceland and Norway submitted National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs)[8] to outline the steps taken, and projected progress by each country between 2010 and 2020 to meet the Renewable Energy Directive. Each plan contains a detailed breakdown of each country's current renewable energy usage and plans for future developments. According to projections by the updated Spanish submission dated 20/12/11 by 2020 the gross final energy consumption in Spain by sector breaks down as follows.

Projected energy use by sector in 2020[5] ktoe RE 2020 target
Heating and cooling 30,929 17.3%
Electricity 31,961 39.0%
Transport 32.301 11.3%
Gross final energy consumption* 98.693 20.0%
  • Including losses and adjustments

According to NREAP criteria around a third of energy consumption (32.5%) is used in the heating and cooling sector. The heating and cooling sector (also known as the thermal sector) includes domestic heating and air conditioning, industrial processes such as furnaces and any use of heat generally. The electricity sector and transport sector are also projected to account for around a third of energy consumption each at 33.6% and 33.9% respectively. The proportion of energy use in each sector is similar to that of 2016. In order to meet Spain's overall target for 20% use of renewable energy (it was just 8.3% in 2005) in gross final energy consumption (20,505 ktoe) by 2020 targets have been set for each sector as follows: 17.3% renewable energy use in the heating and cooling sector, 39% in the electricity sector and 11.3% in the transport sector.[9] Total annual energy consumption is projected to be 98,693 ktoe (98.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent) by 2020. The report expected Spain to produce a surplus of 0.8% above the 20% target (20.8% total) for renewable energy use which would be available for other countries to meet their renewable energy targets under the "cooperation mechanism".

The energy measures above are gross final energy consumption. Another broader measure, primary energy consumption also includes energy used in the extraction of fuels (the energy sector) and energy lost in transformation (the transformation sector, i.e. converting heat to electricity in power plants or fuel energy to heat in heating plants) as well as gross final energy consumption for end users. Under the European Union Energy Efficiency Directive EU countries submit their Energy Efficiency Plans every three years and Energy Efficiency Annual Reports every year. According to Spain's 2016 Energy Efficiency Annual Report the country's total final energy consumption in 2014 was 79.2 Mtoes whilst its primary energy consumption was 112.6 Mtoes.[10] Most of the approximately 42% difference is accounted for in losses in the transformation sector. These losses are likely to be most prevalent in thermal electricity sectors, thus the use of renewable electricity will reduce CO2 emissions and fuels lost in the energy and transformation sectors as well as those in final consumption. By using more efficient thermal generation the potential remains to reduce energy wastage by almost a third and to cut CO2 emissions accordingly.

Electricity Sector

Components of renewable electricity coverage in Spain 2015.[11]

In 2015, wind power provided the largest share at 19.1% followed by hydroelectric power at 11.1%. Solar power provided 5.2% and renewable thermal a further 2%. The total electricity supplied (demand coverage) from renewables was 37.4% of Spain's requirements in 2015. The current generational mix of electricity production can be checked in real time on the Red Electrica de Espana website.[12]

Sharp variation from one year to the next is largely due to the substantial differences in hydroelectric production from one year to the next. Excluding hydroelectric production electricity generation from renewable energy sources grew from around 10 percent[13] in 2006 to 26.3 percent of demand coverage in 2015. Most of the growth occurred in the years leading up to 2012 with little change in baseline capacity between 2012 and 2015. Renewable energy generated electricity had a record year in 2014 when it supplied 42.8% of Spain's national demand.

Total annual net generation from renewable sources has grown from around 60 TWh in 2007 to close to 100-110 TWh in the years 2013–2015. Wind power overtook hydroelectric power as the largest source of renewable electricity from around 2008 onwards to produce around 50 TWh from 2013 onwards. Hydroelectric power remains to second largest source typically generating between 25 and 45 TWh per year depending on whether the year is a wet or dry one. Solar PV power grew from just 484 GWh in 2007 to 8,202 GWh by 2012 and has remained at a similar level through to 2015. Solar thermal power grew from almost no presence at 8 GWh in 2007 to 5,085 GWh by 2015. Renewable thermal and other sources have grown from around 2,589 GWh in 2007 to 4,625 GWh in 2015. Total electricity generation from all sources has fallen in Spain from 288 TWh in 2007 to 267 TWh by 2015, a fall of around 7%.

Electricity coverage by renewables (%)[11][14][15][16]

Heating and cooling sector

Renewable energy in the heating and cooling sector, final energy consumption 2014[1]
Source ktoe Estimated share of total

sector (all sources)

Biomass 3,862 13.65%
of which: -solid biomass 3,761 13.29%
-biogas 101 0.36%
-bio liquids 0 0%
RE from heat pumps 332 1.17%
Solar Energy 259 0.92%
Geothermal 19 0.07%
Total 4,471 15.80%
Overall share of energy use in the heating and cooling sector from renewable sources[1]
Year 2011 2012 2013 2014
Percentage of total sector 13.6% 14.0% 14.1% 15.8%

Every two years all EU countries as well as Iceland and Norway submit Progress Reports outlining their renewable energy development and movement towards meeting their 2020 renewable energy targets. According to the Spanish progress reports between 2011 and 2014 renewable energy share in the heating and cooling sector grew from 13.6% to 15.8%. In 2014 biomass provided the largest share of RE in the heating and cooling sector at approximately 13.65% of the total, equating to 3.862 million tonnes of oil equivalent. RE from heat pumps provided a little over 1% of the total sector, solar and geothermal power provided a contribution of 0.92% and 0.07% respectively.

Transport sector

Renewable energy in the transport sector, 2014[1]
Confirmed renewable


Renewable electricity 119
Hydrogen 0
Total (Confirmed) 119.7
*Unconfirmed renewable

biofuels sources

Biodiesels 536
Bioethanol 186
HVO (hydro treated vegetable oil) 289
Total (Unconfirmed) 1,010

According to the third Spanish submission of EU country Progress Reports covering the years 2013 and 2014 renewable energy use in the transport sector in Spain and Brazil included renewable electricity accounting for energy use of 119.7 k toe. *The bio fuels listed in the report and the table above had not been confirmed as coming from sustainable sources and were awaiting assessment and possible confirmation and as such are not yet able to be confirmed as renewable energy sources. They are included for information about the sector. The total energy from bio fuels were 1,010 k toe in 2014. Renewable electricity accounted for 0.5% of the total fuel use in the transport sector (using 2020 EU target criteria). A rough calculation would imply that if the bio fuels are finally confirmed as renewable sources then the total renewable energy use in the transport sector would come to approximately 4.7% of the total in 2014.


Wind power

In 2014 Spain was the world's fourth biggest producer of wind power. In that year, the year-end installed capacity was 23 GW and the annual production was 51,439 GWh, a share of total electricity consumption of 21.1%.[17] Installed capacity grew from around 0.8GW in 1998 to approximately 23 GW by 2012. As can be seen from the graph, virtually no new wind power has been installed from 2012 to 2017.

Wind power installed capacity (MW)[18]

Hydroelectric Power

Installed capacity of hydroelectric power has grown by small incremental amounts annually since 2006 from 18,1815 MW in 2006 to 19,468 MW in 2014. Between 2014 and 2015 there was a significant growth in pumped storage generation of 850 MW. Total capacity reached 20,336 MW in 2015.

Hydroelectric installed capacity (MW)[18]

Annual electricity generation from hydroelectric sources varies considerably from year to year. A rough calculation shows that the contribution to total net generation varied approximately between 9-17 percent annually. This variation helps explain the fluctuating annual figures for total renewable energy in Spain. Production in 2012 was a little over half that of 2010 at just 24,100 gW/h.

Solar power

In 2005 Spain became the first country in Europe to require the installation of photovoltaic electricity generation in new buildings, and the second in the world (after Israel) to require the installation of solar hot water systems.[19] With the construction of the PS10, located near Seville, Spain became the first country to ever have a commercial solar energy power tower.[20] In recent years there has been much controversy over a tax on PV power generation as the cost of PV solar installations has reached grid parity in Spain according to several sources. Solar power first began to be installed significantly in 2006 with 136 MW installed capacity before rising rapidly to 6,949 MW by 2013. Little change in installed capacity occurred between 2013 and 2017.

Solar power installed capacity (MW)[18]

Renewable Thermal

In 2014 biomass and biogas contributed to around 2% of electricity generation in Spain as well as 13.65% of heat consumed in the heating and cooling sector. In terms of the energy provided to each sector in ktoe (thousand tonnes of oil equivalent), the fuels provided over nine times more energy to the heating and cooling sector.

Renewable thermal installed capacity (MW)[18]

Production by region

Production by source and Autonomous Community:

The following two tables show a snapshot of the generation of electricity from renewable sources in Spain at the end of 2006 and the end of 2013. In 2006 two regions were generating around 70 percent of electricity demand from renewables. By 2013 four regions were generating more electricity from renewables than the total demand within each region. The leading region was Castile and León which generated 164 percent of its total electricity demand.

Renewable Electricity in Spain (GWh, 2006 data)[21]
Autonomous Community Hydroelectric power (Nationwide) Wind power Solar power - all Biomass


Solid waste


Total Renewable Generation Total Electricity Demand % Renewable of Total

Electricity Demand

Castile and León 6960 3840 14 274 87 11175 15793 70.8%
Galicia 7561 5970 1 242 317 14091 20279 69.5%
La Rioja 124 897 1 3 2 1027 1860 55.2%
Aragón 3073 3342 1 63 8 6487 11885 54.6%
Navarre 379 2248 28 269 0 2924 5401 54.1%
Extremadura 2244 0 1 0 0 2245 5076 44.2%
Castile-La Mancha 710 3935 8 99 34 4786 12686 37.7%
Asturias 1680 357 0 221 400 2658 12391 21.5%
Cantabria 875 0 0 11 41 927 5693 16.3%
Catalonia 3223 301 7 77 241 3849 48498 7.9%
Andalusia 946 1042 5 728 0 2721 40737 6.7%
Basque Country 336 339 3 55 326 1059 20934 5.1%
Valencia 1041 266 13 55 0 1375 27668 5.0%
Canary Islands 0 288 0 0 0 288 9372 3.1%
Balearic Islands 0 5 0 0 133 138 6235 2.2%
Murcia 65 93 6 12 0 176 8334 2.1%
Madrid 83 0 8 58 330 479 30598 1.6%
Ceuta & Melilla 0 0 0 0 2 2 391 0.5%
SPAIN 29301 22924 97 2167 1921 56410 283829 19.9%
Renewable Electricity in Spain (GWh, 2013 data)[22]
Autonomous Community Hydroelectric




(special regime)

Wind power Solar




All - Renewable Thermal Total Renewable Generation Total Electricity Demand % Renewable of Total

Electricity Demand

Castilla y León 7955 628 12681 0 848 181 22293 13586 164.09%
Extremadura 2855 38 0 1649 1110 150 5802 4586 126.52%
Castilla-La Mancha 551 491 8657 678 1697 238 12312 11745 104.83%
Galicia 8226 1844 9496 0 20 597 20183 19538 103.30%
Aragón 3594 1013 4869 0 309 228 10013 10190 98.26%
Navarra 146 627 2665 0 295 304 4037 4720 85.53%
La Rioja 106 68 1078 0 130 12 1394 1655 84.23%
Asturias 1911 331 1142 0 1 666 4051 10527 38.48%
Andalucía 1303 331 6987 1988 1586 1764 13959 37280 37.44%
Cantabria 611 279 75 0 2 82 1049 4462 23.51%
Cataluña 4607 1099 3195 74 431 259 9665 47122 20.51%
Región de Murcia 76 56 544 43 802 58 1579 7801 20.24%
Comunidad Valenciana 1584 25 2595 10 564 53 4831 25615 18.86%
Canarias 0 3 364 0 287 8 662 8625 7.68%
País Vasco 375 168 356 0 28 187 1114 17316 6.43%
Baleares 0 0 6 0 122 1 129 5674 2.27%
Comunidad de Madrid 69 100 0 0 92 286 547 30169 1.81%
Ceuta y Melilla 0 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.1 412 0.02%
SPAIN 33970 7102 54708 4442 8324 5073 113619 261023 43.53%

Targets and progress


Renewable energy target trajectory NREAP report 20/12/11.[8]
2005 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Renewable energy share of heating and cooling sector 8.9% 11.0% 11.3% 11.7% 12.1% 12.5% 13.4% 14.3% 15.1% 15.8% 16.5% 17.3%
Renewable energy share of electricity sector 18.4% 29.2% 31.0% 32.0% 32.7% 33.5% 34.1% 34.4% 35.5% 36.4% 37.4% 39.0%
Renewable energy share of transport sector 0.8% 5.0% 7.1% 7.6% 7.8% 8.0% 8.3% 8.7% 9.1% 9.6% 10.2% 11.3%
Renewable energy share of total energy consumption 8.2% 13.2% 14.4% 15.1% 15.6% 16.1% 16.7% 17.3% 18.1% 18.9% 19.7% 20.8%

The table above shows the expected trajectory for shares of renewable energy in the three sectors as well as the overall target trajectory. The information represents the Spanish submission as one of the European country National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPS). Overall between 2005 and 2020 renewable energy sources are expected to rise from 8.2% of total energy use in 2005 to 20.8% of energy use by 2020.


Renewable energy Progress Report Spain, 2013–16.[1]
2013 2014 2015 2016
Renewable energy share of heating and cooling sector 14.1% 15.8% 16.8% 16.8%
Renewable energy share of electricity sector 36.7% 37.8% 36.9% 36.6%
Renewable energy share of transport sector 0.5% 0.5% 1.2% 5.3%†
Renewable energy share of total energy consumption 15.3% 16.2% 16.2% 17.3%

† 2016 was the first year in which the contribution of biofuels was counted in the transport sector.

According to the third Spanish submission of EU country Progress Reports, (submitted every 2 years), covering the years 2013 and 2014, the country achieved renewable energy shares in each sector as listed in the table above. Spain has a 20.8% renewable energy target in its total energy in order to meet the European Union renewable energy targets for 2020. By 2014 Spain had achieved a 16.2% share of total energy use. Most of the growth occurred in the electricity sector which has grown from 18.4% of the total sector in 2005 to 37.8% by 2014.. During the same period the thermal sector registered a smaller rise from 8.9% to 15.8%. The transport sector remains well below its target trajectory at just 0.5% in 2014, although this may improve if Spanish biofuel use is confirmed as coming from sustainable sources to a level of roughly equal to 4.7% of the sector (see transport sector heading above). Spain's overall target for renewable energy use across all sectors stood at 16.2% of the total in 2014, just above its trajectory target and not a long way short of its 20.8% target for 2020.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Progress reports - Energy - European Commission". Energy. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Elaborated data: Red Electrica De Espana, Publicaciones, Indicadores nacionales Data sheet for "Balances de energía eléctrica" March 2016 Accessed 5/5/16".
  3. ^ "Red Electrica de Espana Corporate Responsibility Report 2015" (PDF).
  5. ^ a b "National Renewable Energy Action Plans, Directive 2009/28/EC".
  6. ^ "Share of renewables in energy consumption in the EU rose further to 16% in 2014. Eurostat News Release, 10 February 2016".
  7. ^ Valdivia, Ana Garcia. "Renewable Energy In Spain: From The 'Sun Tax' To The Promotion Of Collective Self-Consumption". Forbes. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b "National Action Plans, European Commission".
  9. ^ "Spanish National Renewable Energy Action Plan, Directive 2009/28/EC".
  10. ^ "European Commission, National Energy Efficiency Action Plans and Annual Reports".
  11. ^ a b Preliminary Report 2015, Red Electrica Espana
  12. ^ current mix of electricity generation
  13. ^ Annual Report 2007, Red Electrica de Espana, figure for wind power only, excludes very small contribution from other sources.
  14. ^ Corporate Responsibility Report 2009, p91, Red Eléctrica Corporación
  15. ^ Preliminary Report 2013, p12, Red Eléctrica de España
  16. ^ Corporate Responsibility Report 2014, p61, Red Eléctrica de España
  17. ^ The Spanish Electricity System Preliminary Report 2014 (PDF), Red Eléctrica de España (REE), 2014
  18. ^ a b c d "Series estadísticas nacionales". Red Eléctrica de España. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  19. ^ REN21: Renewables Global Status Report - Update 2006 Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "".
  21. ^ Red Eléctrica de España Annual Report 2006 Archived 30 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Red Electrica de Espana, Annual Report 2013

External links

  • Renewables 2050. A report on the potential for renewable energies in peninsular Spain (Green Peace).
  • ASIF.
  • Protermosolar.
  • Renewable Energy in Spain: Details on the Government's New feed-in tariff (FIT) Regulation
  • ISTAS analysis of the flawed Calzada report. In Spanish.
  • Spain Rejects Calzada "Spanish Jobs" Study. - NRDC summary of the response of the Spanish government and ISTAS to the Calzada report.
  • US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Response to the Report Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources from King Juan Carlos University (Spain), authors Eric Lantz and Suzanne Tegen, White Paper NREL/TP-6A2-46261, August 2009
  • Red Electrica de Espana
  • Renewable Energy National Action Plans, European Commission
  • Energy Efficiency Directive, European Commission
  • National Energy Efficiency Action Plans and Annual Reports, European Commission
  • Renewable Energy Progress Reports by country, European Commission