It may be one heck of a coincidence, or it could be the fact that renewable energy causes a major drop in emissions – choose your pick. Remarkable new figures from Spain’s grid operator have revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from the country’s energy sector have fallen by approximately 23.1% last year, as wind and hidroelectric energy generation soared.
Red Eléctrica de España (REE) released a report regarding last year’s power system in the country, and showed that for “the first time ever, [wind power] contributed most to the annual electricity demand coverage”. According to their figures, wind amounted for 21.1% of the total energy usage, while the close runner-up was nuclear, with 21%.
If we put figures on that, we find that wind farms have generated 53,926 gigawatt hours of electricity, up 12% from 2012, and hydroelectric generated 32,205GWh. That means that nuclear, water and wind together generated somewhere at around 55%, leaving fossil fuels compensate most of what is left. As comparison, in the US (and many other countries for that matter), fossil fuels amount for about 80% of total energy.
With some exceptions, there has been little opposition to the installation of inland wind parks.
“Throughout 2013, the all-time highs of wind power production were exceeded,” the report stated. “On 6 February, wind power recorded a new maximum of instantaneous power with 17,056MW at 3:49 pm (2.5 per cent up on the previous record registered in April 2012), and that same day the all-time maximum for hourly energy was also exceeded reaching 16,918MWh. Similarly, in January, February, March and November wind power generation was the technology that made the largest contribution towards the total energy production of the system.”
In contrast, both traditional fossil fuel plants and nuclear energy are dropping significantly. This drop, combined with the emergence of renewable energy, led to a massive drop in the country’s CO2 emissions.
“The increased weight of renewable energy in the generation mix structure of 2013 compared to the previous year has reduced CO2 emissions of the electricity sector on the Spanish peninsula to 61.4 million tonnes, 23.1% lower than in 2012,” the report stated.
Andrei's background is in geophysics, and he's been fascinated by it ever since he was a child. Feeling that there is a gap between scientists and the general audience, he started ZME Science -- and the results are what you see today.