Historical experiences with wind energy – Spain

Hurdles remain in the effort to make wind power even more successful in four main areas: variability, grid issues, centralised control centre, and meteorological prediction. Critics of wind power in Spain have pointed to the inherent variability of the energy source as one of the main stumbling blocks to integrating it into the existing system.
In addition to the variability of the resource, grid issues remain. Wind turbines are often located far from population centres and in Spain, this issue has presented challenges. The Spanish grid has had problems absorbing the amount of wind power generated. Upgrades to the transmission system are a top priority, according to the Spanish government, in reaching the stated goal of 20,000 MW of wind power by 2011. In particular, reinforcing and strengthening the power-sharing mechanism between Spain and France, and thus Spain and the rest of Europe, is of primary importance. When there is energy is needed in France, Spain exports power, and vice versa. However, the transmission lines between the two countries are not yet adequately reinforced to support this two-way movement to its full capacity. Because a great amount of wind power is generated in Northern Spain, a stronger connection to France and the rest of Europe to manage power surges and dips more efficiently is paramount. It has been compared to the situation between Denmark and Germany.
Strong winds in December 2009 resulted in excess electricity production and all of the electricity generated from wind was effectively ‘dumped’. The price of electricity generated from wind fell to minus figures.
Despite variability the government and industry in Spain consider that the integration of wind in Spain is not an impossible challenge.