Ok, not all the time, but last weekend at 5:50am on Sunday morning (8th Nov) Spain set a new record, hitting 53.7% of its energy requirements being supplied by wind energy.
As you can see from the graph above, the amount of electricity being supplied by wind, the light green portion of the graph, doesn’t go below 30% at any point in the 24 hours and is closer to between 40-50% for most of the time!
These are figures the world’s most ambitious countries are targeting hitting by 2020, at the earliest!
Notice also on the graph that the contribution from coal (the red band) during this period is in the low single digits, never rising above 6.4%.
And finally notice also that for a lot of the period significant amounts of generation is below the 0MW line – this occurs when the electricity is being either stored using pumped hydro storage, or being exported for sale on the international markets.
The Guardian reporting on this quoted Jos? Donoso, head of the Spanish Wind Energy Association
“We think that we can keep growing and go from the present 17GW megawatts to reach 40GW in 2020,” he told El Pa??s newspaper.
Windfarms have this month outperformed other forms of electricity generation in Spain, beating gas into second place and producing 80% more than the country’s nuclear plants.
Experts estimate that by the end of the year, Spain will have provided a quarter of its energy needs with renewables, with wind leading the way, followed by hydroelectric power and solar energy.
The graph above is taken from the site of the Spanish grid operator Red Electrica de Espa?a (REE).
The REE website has highly detailed and extremely interactive infographics produced using Adobe’s Flex software:
Real-time (and historic) demand, along with generation structure and CO2 emissions
Real-time (and historic) structure of electricity generation (the graph above is taken from this page) and
Demand curves over intervals of time
Patrick M. says
Very misleading headline!”Spain gets 53% of its energy from wind ….. for a few nano-seconds!”
What percent of energy over the past YEAR was generated by wind? – that is more relevant and important. Looking at what happened at 5:30am one morning is meaningless.
Aron Roberts says
Shaddi writes: “The linked article is a bit ambiguous, but remember that electricity is a subset of a countryâ€™s total energy needs.”
Is it possible that there is some confusion introduced, in this blog post, between Spain’s electricity requirements and total energy requirements?
The end of the first sentence, “Spain set a new record, hitting 53.7% of its energy requirements being supplied by wind energy,” refers to total energy requirements, but the second sentence, which refers to “the amount of electricity being supplied by wind,” refers only to electrical energy.
Even if at the relatively short-lived, peak moment or period cited, 53.7% of Spain’s *electricity* requirements were supplied by wind energy, that is still an impressive total, but that’s a manifestly different assertion than stating that wind supplied 53.7% of Spain’s *energy* requirements.
At least in the USA – I’m not sure how applicable this may be to Spain – electricity consumption is an important but minority fraction of total energy consumption; one handy overview can be found at:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories
“Energy Goes With the Flow”
Science & Technology Review, September 2009
nice catch aron and shaddi… its hard enough explaining the peak load, but energy clearly != electricity.
Nick Donnelly says
This is so misleading.
Wind power is fundamentally flawed for the simple fact – its not always windy & its very hard to store power at scale – so wind turbines have to be backed up with gas power stations.
How much electricity is generated at peak times is laregely irrelivant if it can’t be stored at a large scale – the flip side, what happens when its not windy, is the problem.
The article does mention hydro storage – but what storage capacity does Spain have in hydro (it doesnt say)? This is also only possible where hydroelectric facilities are already in place (or massive investment is required).
The reality of wind power is far more nuanced, complete and potentially polluting that it seems on face value – the flip side of this story needs to be told.
Im not saying increasing wind power usage is bad – but its not the easy win many think it is and the disadvantages are rarely reported.
Smart British Energy Gas says
Pretty great that some European countries are giving the example when it comes recycleable forms of energy. If Spain gets that much from their wind turbines, imagine how much US can produce. It would be good that Britain started to follow some of the steps countries like Spain are giving towards energy production especially taking advantage of Great Britain’s weather conditions. We might not succeed in having solar panels as we are known from our rainy days but definetly I personally think it would be a great move by building up more wind turbines alongside Britain’s gorgeous seaside. I hope our government does not fall aspleep onto this environmental aspect and soon start to put into action, some of the plans that are already being taken place in some parts of Europe by neighbour countries. Thanks for the post Tom, will recommend it.Cheers