The study on the renewable sector, carried out by the Association of Renewable Energy Companies (APPA Renovables) has been presented by the president of the Association, José Miguel Villarig, and its general director, José María González Moya, at the Spanish Club of Energy headquarters.
The aim of the study that is known colloquially as Macro Study in the renewable sector, is to analyze the different costs and benefits that renewables bring to the Spanish economy at a time when the Energy Transition is taking shape at a national and European level.
The weight of renewables in the national economy
During 2017, the renewable sector accounted for 0.80% of national economy, contributing 9.304 million to GDP. The sector growth was 8.7% and was accompanied by an increase of 4,101 jobs, which places the sector at 78,667 jobs. This increase in GDP and employment is mainly explained by the reactivation of the sector as a result of the 2016 and 2017 auctions.
The renewable sector experienced an increase of 8.7% in 2017 due to the reactivation of the auctions and not due to a greater renewable generation.
The recovery observed in the sector is not due to energy generation, given that the installed capacity remained basically stagnant and the energy sold decreased compared to the previous year. The auctions and the competitiveness achieved by some electricity generation technologies are the true reasons behind the positive figures in the sector.
Greater energy dependence in Spain
The low hydraulic production, consequence of the drought suffered in Spain in 2017, strongly undermined the renewable electric generation, which decreased by 16.4%. As there was hardly any new renewable power that could replace this reduction, the percentage of renewables on gross final energy fell to 16.7%, which moves us away from the 20% targets for 2020.
The hydro generation fall and the rise of energy consumption in 2017, was entirely covered through fossil generation. The increase of all types of fossil imports led to energy dependence accounting to 76.1%, according to the calculations of APPA Renovables. A fact that not only moves the country away from renewable energy targets but also puts the Spanish economy in a weak position in relation to oil price variations.
Exports of goods and services from the renewable sector set a new record at 4,564 million, which results in a net export balance of 3,117 million euros. This renewable trade balance contrasts sharply with the trade deficit of the economy as a whole (-22,694 million), of which the energy deficit represents 85% (-19,269 million).
Renewable energies in their different areas, electricity generation, thermal energy and biofuels, prevented the import of 20,068,185 million equivalent tons of oil in 2017, equivalent to saving 6,951 million euros. The emissions prevented reached 56,850,744 tons of CO2, valued at 332 million euros.
Lower savings in the pool due to atypical market behavior
Historical series analyzed have evidenced that the greater the entrance of renewables in the electrical system, the lower the matching price. The decline in renewable generation driven by drought, along with the behavior of interconnection as a consequence of the French nuclear power plants low availability and the record matching prices experienced in January, have hampered the savings produced by renewables in the pool. In 2017, renewables produced savings in the pool amounting to 2,584 million and perceived a total of 5,674 million in regulated remuneration.
The sector continued to be a net fiscal contributor, contributing 1,089 million euros to the State coffers.
The future of the renewable sector
APPA Renovables´ president, José Miguel Villarig, stressed the need to have a stable regulatory framework to undertake the Energy Transition: “we already know what the 2030 targets are and we must have a taxation that reflects the principle that the polluter pays, and a stable regulatory framework to undertake investments. We must stop improvising and start planning in the medium and long term to develop the sector and meet our targets, ” the president said, referring to the future of the sector.
The president of the Association referred to the coming years optimistically, “we must learn from our mistakes because we have great potential to lead the Energy Transition in Europe and the world: we have experienced professionals, companies with great experience and we are a country with enviable renewable resources. All this will allow us to become a pillar of the industry creation in the country, generating indigenous employment and wealth“. “We have a decade ahead in which Spain must take a step forward in renewables,” Villarig concluded.