Spain’s wind energy industry announced last month that they have set an important record. For the first time in the country’s history, electricity generated from wind turbines exceeded that of solar, coal, and nuclear sources. This is an unprecedented event for the Iberian country, which features a scenic southern land that is famous for sunny days, clear skies and yes, steady wind.
Gone are the days of Don Quixote and the famous windmills of southern Spain. These days, wind turbines churn across the Spanish landscape, especially during the winter months. From November of 2012 through January of 2013, these turbines were responsible for 26 percent of the countries’ electricity – enough to power every household in Spain. Also worth noting is this: over this same 100 day period, this energy has replaced the equivalent of 31 million barrels of oil.
This is a great accomplishment for the Spanish wind industry, but new challenges lie ahead. The wind farms are finally gaining momentum and becoming successful, and the Spanish government has noticed. At the beginning of February, the government cut the subsidies that the wind energy has received for years, forcing wind energy companies to make some hard decisions. Shares in Spanish wind power companies have since dropped dramatically, exacerbating the issue. Many international wind power companies are contemplating pulling out of Spain all together, given the recent news. 30 billion dollars from United States alone has been invested into this sector, so the stakes are very high.
The Spanish wind power industry is now at a crossroads. The government has taken off the training wheels due to their recent success. It is now time to see if this burgeoning industry can grow and maintain profitability going forward. With any luck, wind power can become a clean, profitable alternative to fossil fuels in this southern European paradise.