The year 2022 has been key to underpin Spain's leadership in Europe in the energy field. Our country has continued to make progress in the integration of renewable energies and has positioned itself as an outstanding student of the energy transition on the continent. This is evidenced by the Electricity System Report just presented by Red Eléctrica, which includes the main milestones in the sector over the past year.
Solar technology overtook hydro in generation capacity in 2022.
According to this document, only Germany manages to dethrone Spain in the ranking of the nations which make up the ENTSO-E association, occupying the second European position in renewable and wind power installed capacity. In the case of solar energy, Spain is the third country with the largest installed capacity after Germany and Holland. In terms of energy production from wind and sun, Spain is once again in second place after Germany.
Spain shines on the European renewables podium thanks to the efforts being made year after year in the sector. In 2022, 5,900 MW of new renewable capacity were commissioned, of which 4,500 were photovoltaic and 1,400 wind. With this boost, photovoltaics has finally reclaimed its leading role in the electricity mix after remaining for years as an eternal promise. Solar panels have managed to overtake hydropower in generation capacity and become the third technology in Spain, after wind and combined cycle.
Supporting European neighbors
This potential has been key in 2022 to support European neighbors who, after the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the resulting tensions in supplies, have been immersed in one of the most difficult energy situations in living memory.
This winter has shown that Iberian renewables are fundamental to Europe's progress towards its energy and climate targets. Specifically, Spain closed 2o22 with the highest export balance in its history and the first positive one since 2015. Domestic generation has served to support mainly France and Portugal, affected by problems in the nuclear fleet, in the first case, and by drought, in the second.
2023, a promising year
The efforts of 2022 are already bearing fruit. Renewables have started the year strongly: so far this quarter, they have already exceeded half of the national electricity generation mix. Wind is the leading technology, with more than 25%, and hydro and photovoltaic are also recording good data.
With these figures, everything points to 2023 being a key year for the ecological transition in Spain: according to Red Eléctrica's estimates, for the first time, renewable energies could reach 50% of annual electricity generation. These data, still subject to high uncertainty, forecast that the contribution of wind and all solar could reach 42%.
The president of Redeia, Red Eléctrica's parent company, Beatriz Corredor, predicted that "2023 will be a transcendental year for us to consolidate our position as the European Union's renewable energy engine".
Corredor: "No grid, no renewables".
During the meeting to present the Electricity System Report, in which the Renewable Energies Report prepared by the company was also presented, the president highlighted the critical role of the electricity transmission grid in this process of the country's energy transformation. "Without a grid, there are no renewables and no ecological transition," she said.
The president of Redeia highlighted the critical role of the grid in the energy transformation process.
In this sense, Corredor highlighted the strategic role of the current electricity planning, which contemplates the development and reinforcement of the grid so that by 2026 renewables will account for 67% of electricity production. These are almost 7,000 million euros of investment with which critical projects such as the Caparacena-Baza electricity axis, in the province of Granada, or the submarine link between Lanzarote-Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, have already been put into service.
In the future, Red Eléctrica is working on interconnections between isolated systems -such as those of Ibiza-Formentera and Tenerife-La Gomera- and with neighboring countries. Especially relevant will be the one that will connect Spain with France through the Bay of Biscay, a fundamental infrastructure to promote the integration of renewables, reinforce supply, generate savings and advance in the strategic autonomy of the European Union. The main contracts for the project have already been awarded and work is expected to start after the summer.