The rise in prices in recent months and greater collective awareness continue to take their toll on electricity consumption. In the midst of the European energy crisis and amidst calls from EU and national authorities for savings, Spanish electricity demand fell by 6.8% in November, corrected for temperature and calendar. In gross terms, according to data published this Friday by Red Eléctrica de España (REE), the fall was 9%. In both cases, it is the biggest drop since mid-2020, when the pandemic plummeted consumption in companies and households.
November is now the fifth consecutive month in which electricity consumption has fallen: since July, total electricity demand has not stopped falling in annual comparison. In the year to date, consumption has fallen by around 2.8%, adjusted for weather and labor-related factors, a figure that remains at 1.8% if no adjustment is applied.
Behind this clearly downward trend is a plethora of factors: from those already mentioned - the high cost of energy and greater awareness, particularly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine - to the savings plan launched by the government in August, which limits the temperature inside stores and public buildings. The drastic reduction in industrial demand also played a major role: in November, as in previous months, the decline in consumption in the manufacturing sector was in double digits.
By geography, the fall recorded in November in mainland Spain (-7.1%, in adjusted terms) and in the Balearic Islands (-8.4%) contrasts with the increase recorded in the Canary Islands (+2.5%). In both archipelagos, gas was the great dominator of the mix, with combined cycle plants accounting for 77% and 44% of the electricity consumed, respectively.
The data published this Friday invite a bittersweet reading. They are good news in purely energy and environmental terms (it forces to burn less natural gas, the most precious fuel these days) and contribute to the recent drop in prices (as demand falls, there are more time slots in which renewables cover a substantial part of what is consumed). But they also reflect a worsening in the activity of some sectors, with the secondary sector leading the way.
In contrast to previous months, in which combined cycles (plants in which gas is burned to obtain electricity) were the main source of electricity generation in Spain, the good tone of wind power in November pushed wind turbines into the lead with a 31% share, the highest since December 2020. In total, renewables (wind, solar and biomass) produced 5.6% more than in the same month of 2021, accounting for 47% of the mix. Adding the contribution of nuclear, more than 67% of generation technologies did not emit carbon dioxide.