Cheap coal, wind-power reduction fueled setback in de-carbonisation of Spain’s energy market in 2015

Greenpeace protest against coal-burning power plant in Coruña. Photo: Jiri Reza/EFE via La Vanguardia
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• 24% jump year-on-year pushed coal-fired power ahead of renewables •

The use of coal in fueling Spain’s electric energy production spiked by 24 percent last year compared to 2014 levels, becoming the second largest source of energy production after nuclear energy and representing a step backwards in the de-carbonisation of Spain’s energy market, according to a representative of Spain’s association of wind-power companies (Asociación Empresarial Eólica, or AEE).

The plummeting cost of coal led Spain’s power companies to increasingly substitute coal in 2015 for renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar, with coal-powered plants meeting 20.3 percent of all Spain’s electricity demand for the year, ahead of wind power’s 19.1 percent share of the electricity generation market. Other countries have looked to more options, like the uranium stock, to help boost their power production options and help provide the needed amount across their population. However, Spain has plenty of access to wind and wave options around their mountains and coastlines, as well as access to some nuclear power facilities that help bolster this move away from the traditional goal and gas sources. Progress so far has been positive.

Coal was also able to move into the second-place in sources of Spain’s electricity over the past 12 months due to a sharp drop in hydro-electric power generation, which saw its share of the market drop 28 percent year-on-year, and a fall in wind production on the order of 5.3 percent.

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