Spain (2013)

Degree of reliance on imported energy: 

In 2010 Spain imported 36.7 bcm of natural gas to satisfy its entire consumption. The three main supplier countries were Algeria (33%), Nigeria (20%) and Qatar (16%). Typical for Spain is a wide diversification of sources (up to 14 countries) and high import capacities for LNG (76% of imported gas in 2010 was LNG and the rest was pipeline gas).

Main sources of Energy: 

The total net electricity production was 280 TWh in 2011, of which approximately 6 TWh was exported and 3 TWh was used for pumped hydro. The domestic demand was roughly 270 TWh. The electricity production from fuel/gas is exclusively in the extra-peninsular regions.

The highest share in the energy mix came from crude oil and petroleum products. In the electricity mix, the shares were more equally divided between natural gas, renewables and nuclear energy. The share of renewable electricity was above 33%, mainly hydro and wind. In 2010 Spain was the country with the highest wind energy output in the EU (16%). As far as the 2020 goal is concerned, Spain’s national overall target is to achieve a share of 20% energy from renewable sources. This share improved from 9.4% in 2006 to 13.8% in 2010. The share of cogeneration in the overall electricity production was 7.4% in 2010, being close to the share measured in 2005 (7.4%).



Extent of the network: 

Electricity transmission has also been expanding on the in international level. Spain is connected to Portugal, France, Andorra, and Morocco. The largest of these interconnections is between Spain and its neighbour on the peninsula, Portugal. Spain, in 2010, exported more than they had imported; 8,333 GWh more energy was exported abroad than was imported into the country.

Capacity concerns: 

Power generation capacity (100 GW) in Spain by far outweighs the country’s current peak demand (44 GW). Strong government support for renewables generation in combination with the sudden and deep economic crisis have led to this situation of overcapacity. In terms of cross-border transmission capacity, Spain is increasingly well connected to Portugal but congestions still occur. Cross-border capacity was increased in 2011 and projects are planned to further increase available capacities up to 3 000 MW in 2015.

Potential for Renewable Energy: 


Spain is one of the most advanced countries in the development of solar energy, and it is one of the European countries with the most hours of sunshine. Spain ranks second in the world among both photovoltaic and thermoelectric solar power.

The solar potential for Spain is amongst the best in Europe, if not the best. Spain and Portugal receive the most annual global horizontal solar irradiance on the European continent. The top five regions in Spain with the highest solar irradiation and thus the largest power capacity are Murcia, Andalusia, Extremadura, Ceuta y Melilla and Castilla de la Mancha with a potential amount of energy of more than 1,900 kWh/m² and with a potential output of about 1,400kWh/kWp. Around 10% of Spain’s energy comes from solar power, which is five times more than the average of 2% in the rest of the world.

Wind Energy

There are pockets of the country that far exceed the 6.5 m/s threshold; the northwest region of Galicia is a great example of this. The southernmost tip of Andalucía is also an area with more than enough wind resources for development. Another important note is the wind resource available offshore. Most of the he wind speed offshore well exceeds the 6.5 or greater m/s limit.

Installed wind capacity in Spain reached 22,785 MW in 2012 with the addition of 1,112 MW, according to the Spanish Wind Energy Association’s (AEE) Wind Observatory. The growth has been similar to 2011, which had an increase of 1,050 MW. Spain is the fourth country in the world in terms of installed capacity and produced 48,156 GWh of electricity from wind in 2012. In 2012, Spain’s electrical energy demand decreased 1.8% from 2011 to 269.16 TWh. Wind energy met 17.8 % of this demand and was the third largest contributing technology in 2012.

On 2nd February 2013 wind power achieved again a new record in electricity production reaching a peak of 17.056 MW and an average production per hour of 19.918 MWh.

Biomass & Biofuel

A study from the University of Zaragoza sought to find the energy potential of agro-industrial residue. The sources of residue used in the study involved olive mills, wineries, forestry residue, nut processing, rice mills, wastewater from meat processing from meat processing and dairies, and breweries. The energy potential for forestry and agricultural residues is split between technical limits and economic potential. First, the technical limit takes into consideration the location of resources and “the technical characteristics (including performance) of the equipment used for transforming the resource into electrical energy”. It was found that the technical limit was 32.7 TWh/year. Economic potential, which takes the generation costs into account, leads to a significantly lower potential, 12.87 TWh/year. An important note is that as time progresses and newer technologies are developed that generation costs may go down, thus increasing the amount of potential this source can generate. The potential, looking at it from the technical limit or the economic potential, can be anywhere from 12% of 2010 demand to about 5%. The technical limit and economic potential would amount to 9% and 3% of expected 2020 demand.


Geothermal sites with a high enough temperature exist in Canarias (Canary Islands), particularly the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife.


Hydropower was one of the three renewable energies that contributed heavily towards Spain generating 35% renewable power in 2010. A good way to measure water supply is by measuring the average annual rainfall. The high average rainfall in the north, particularly the northwestern region, makes it the most suitable in the country for hydropower. Hydropower has great potential to add to the energy sector. Theoretically, hydropower is capable of providing 138 TWh of power; this estimation is after water consumption is taken into account.

A more realistic potential was estimated at about 64 TWh/year. This would be enough to cover about 23% of the 2010 demand, and 18% of 2020 demand. Already over half of this estimation has been achieved; hydro plants generated 38.6 TWh and small hydro plants (≤ 10 MW) covered 6.8 TWh.

Potential for Energy Efficiency: 

The transport sector is the dominant consumer of total final energy in Spain, with 36.1%, or 32,050 ktoe attributed to the sector in 2011. The current National Energy Efficiency Action Plan in Spain mentions a number of instruments and measures, including improving the quality of public transport systems and funding for sustainable urban mobility plans. However, due to the ongoing funding climate depression following the 2008 economic crisis, a lack of funding opportunities is identified as the key barrier to the implementation of these plans. This applies across all sectors of the economy, particularly in the public sector. A limited number of measures in the public sector are mentioned in the NEEAP, mainly targeting public lighting and water supply, however this sector has been identified as the one with the most important policy gaps.


The electricity sector in Spain is governed by the Electricity Sector Act (Act 54/1997, of 27 November) (ESA), which is aimed at ensuring power supply reliability and quality, and at minimising costs without compromising environmental protection.The ESA liberalises the electricity market, and sets up a system operating under the principles of objectivity, transparency and competition, and which is intended to foster entrepreneurship.

Spain’s electricity market was integrated with the Portuguese electricity market in 2007. The Spanish electricity market is strongly dominated by a few large players, especially two, Endesa and Iberdrola.

Structure / extent of competition: 


In 2010 there were five major groups competing in the market at the generation level: Iberdrola (24.3%), Endesa (19.6%), Gas natural Fenosa (15%), EDP-Hidrocantábrico (5.3%) and E.On (3.5%).  Furthermore, the overall share of generation in the so called ‘special regime’ - RES (renewable energy sources) and CHP (combined heat and power) - of other groups amounted to 25.9%.

Market concentration at retail level has not changed significantly, but each supplier’s share of the liberalised market has changed as Endesa decreased its share to the benefit of Iberdrola. The majority of Spanish consumers (almost 20.8 million out of 27.7 million) are still supplied by last-resort suppliers at regulated tariffs. Endesa and Iberdrola account for around 80% of these customers. Nonetheless, all consumers in Spain can freely choose their electricity supplier.


By the end of 2010, approximately 4.2 million consumers were supplied at a free market price (58% of all consumers).

The TSO (transmission system operator) in electricity is Red Eléctrica de España (REE). In 2010 Endesa, Gas Natural Fenosa and EDP-Hidrocantábrico sold their remaining transmission assets to complete the process of establishing REE as the sole, ownership unbundled TSO. Following the recent sale of gas transmission assets to ENAGAS, the main gas TSO that possesses the majority of transmission network assets, CNE issued the final certification decisions, in line with the model of ownership unbundling, in July 2012. The electricity and gas DSOs (distribution system operators) are legally and functionally unbundled.

Existence of an energy framework and programmes to promote sustainable energy: 

National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP)

The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) for Spain was submitted in July 2010. The target according to Annex I of Directive 2009/28/EC is 20% for the year 2020 and the projected NREAP share in that year is 22.7%.  According to the projection, the most important contribution in the year 2020 is expected from wind power (78.3 TWh or 6729 ktoe, 31% of all renewable energy). Second important contribution is expected from biomass (renewable heating and cooling) (4950 ktoe, 22% of all renewable energy). The third largest contribution is from hydropower (39.6 TWh or 3404 ktoe, 15% of all renewable energy). Wind power contributes with 38.0 GW (78.3 TWh) in the year 2020 (onshore wind 35.0 GW and 70.5 TWh, offshore wind 3.0 GW and 7.8 TWh). For solar photovoltaic the 2020 contribution is projected to be 8.4 GW (14.3 TWh). For solar thermal the 2020 contribution is projected to be 644 ktoe. The two most important biofuels are projected to contribute 3100 ktoe (biodiesel) and 400 ktoe (bioethanol / bio-ETBE) by 2020. The renewable electricity production from solid biomass amounts to 7.4 TWh (636 ktoe) and for biogas it is expected to be 2.6 TWh (225 ktoe). The consumption of renewable heat is expected to amount to 4850 ktoe for solid biomass and 100 ktoe for biogas.

National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEP)

The new National Energy Efficiency Action Plan’s goal is to reduce final energy consumption per unit of output by 2% annually between 2011 and 2020, or 133, 000 kilotonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) (965 million barrels) of primary energy in this period. Its implementation is expected to mobilise investment worth EUR 45,985 million.

In addition to the national policy, many autonomous communities (Regional Authorities in Spain) have developed their own Energy Policies, including renewable energy targets. The autonomous communities (Regional Governments) manage almost 50% of the national budget. Therefore, they are decisive in the implementation of RE plans. Some of the most relevant regional energy plans are:

  • Basque Country: “Euskadi Energy Strategy 3E-2010”.
  • Catalonia: “Energy Plan 2006-2015”.
  • Madrid: “Energy Plan from the Community of Madrid 2004-2012”.
  • Andalusia: “Andalusian Energy Sustainability Plan 2007-2013”.
  • Valencia: “Wind Energy Plan from the Community of Valencia
  • Galicia: “Promotion Program of Solar Energy in Galicia” and “Wind Energy Plan of Galicia”.
  • Energy Sector Plan for the Balearic Islands 2015 (currently under revision)

An important source of subsidies for investments in renewable energy projects is the Institute for Diversification and Energy Saving (IDAE).

- Third-Party Financing (TPF): this is one of the most appropriate mechanisms available to undertake investment projects in energy saving and efficiency and energy generation using various sources, including renewable energy sources. The IDAE, the main promoter of this financing mechanism in Spain, has been using it successfully since 1987. (IDAE) which offers the following support:

- Project finance and Provision of services: a financing mechanism applicable to projects investing in energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, which have undergone a prior economic/technical feasibility analysis. It is a new model of financial collaboration which entails drawing up and signing two contracts: framework collaboration and service provision contract and a project finance contract (i.e. a business loan).

- Program of aid for strategic projects: This is a line of IDAE support aimed at financing energy saving and efficiency projects. The programme is set in the context of the IDAE's direct actions under the 2008-2012 Action Plan for the 2004-2012 Spanish Energy Saving and Efficiency Strategy (E4).

- Program of Voluntary Agreements with companies involved in the thermal use of biomass in buildings (Biomcasa). This program aims at establishing a financing system to ease access to hot water production systems using biomass in buildings. This program is framed in the Renewables Energy Plan 2005-2010.

- Program GEOTCASA. Financial schemes to authorised companies for the installation of geothermal equipment in buildings. The programme has been set up within the context of the strategic goals of the Renewable Energies Plan 2005-2010.

- Program SOLCASA. Financial schemes to authorised companies for the installation of solar thermal equipment in buildings. As the programme GEOTCASA, this tool has been created following the goals defined by the Renewable Energies Plan 2005-2020 and aims at offering financial support (estimated budget up to 5.000.000 Euros) to equip buildings with solar thermal installations to produce hot water as well as heating/cooling services. Use of the incentives is subjected to installation of the equipment through authorized companies selected by the IDAE.

Current energy debates or legislation: 

According to recent statements from members of the central government, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism plans to review as part of the energy reform in progress the current operation of the wholesale electricity market to adapt to the current conditions of the energy market, characterised by the excess generation capacity and low electricity demand.

The Council of Ministers of Spain has approved the energy reform, which aims at cutting the €26bn tariff deficit and removing the uncertainties over the power sector. To eliminate an annual deficit estimated by the government at €4.5bn in 2013, regulated costs, which include the subsidies for the renewable sector and subsidies for renewable electricity, will be reduced by €2.7bn. Network fees will be cut to save about €1bn. Renewable premiums will be removed to save €1.5bn, and electricity from renewable sources will be sold directly at market price; in turn, the government will guarantee a "reasonable return" rate (treasury bonds + 3%, yielding 7.5%), corresponding to the average return for a period of 25 years (from 2001 to 2026).

Major energy studies: 

European Energy Network

Spain is member of the EnR, which is a voluntary network of European energy agencies which aims at promoting sustainable energy good and best practice. EnR also strengthens cooperation between members and other key European actors on all sustainable energy issues (energy efficiency, sustainable transport and renewable energy).

Role of government: 

Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism

Ministerio de Industria, Energía y Turismo

The Ministry is responsible for setting Spanish energy policy and its implementation, including the development of regulatory proposals and, among other things, approvals of tariff structures, energy product prices and network access tolls in accordance with current legislation.

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment

Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente

The Ministry proposes and implements government policy in relation to climate change and environmental protection (among other things), without prejudice to the role of regional bodies which have related duties in their corresponding regions.

Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) – State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation

Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO) – Secretaría de Estado de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación

This ministry aims to develop the scientific foundation for policies and strategies aimed at sustainable development of the environment and mitigating the impacts of climate change. The State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation is responsible for policies affecting scientific and technical research, development and innovation, including the management of international relations.

Ministry of Industry, Energy and Commerce (MITYC)

Ministerio de Industria, Energía y Turismo (MITYC)

The mission of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Commerce is to develop competitiveness by facilitating energy security at least cost; stimulating domestic and international commerce, cutting-edge technology and communications; and supporting fair competition and research, applying the results to increase economic activity.

Government agencies in sustainable energy: 

Centre for Energy, Environment and Technological Research (CIEMAT)
Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT)

CIEMAT belongs to the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. Its research covers fission, fusion, fossil fuels and renewables, including the environmental impacts of each.

National Renewable Energy Centre (CENER)
Centro Nacional de Energías Renovables (CENER)

CENER was founded by the Navarre regional government and the national government. It carries out applied research and technology transfer in wind energy, biomass, solar PV, solar thermal, renewable energy grid integration, and energy in buildings.

Energy City Foundation (CIUDEN)
Fundación Ciudad de la Energía (CIUDEN)

CIUDEN was founded in 2006 by the Spanish government. It carries out R&D on clean coal technologies. Together with national and international partners, CIUDEN is constructing a demonstration plant for carbon capture with oxy-fuel combustion.

Agency for Innovation and Development (IDEA)
Agencia de Innovación y Desarrollo de Andalucía (IDEA)

IDEA is the regional development agency of Andalusia, and belongs to the Regional Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Science. It is responsible for promoting energy efficiency and the increased use of renewable energy in Spain.

Energy planning procedures: 

Electricity grid development planning is mandatory at transmission level, but only indicative at distribution level. In both cases, it is either the transmission or distribution system operators that, having the technical expertise, prepare the development proposals that are then discussed and approved by the competent public authorities. At transmission level decision-making is held by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism (MINETUR), while at distribution level the decisional power is held by the Regional Administrations (CC.AA.). In both cases, the Comisión Nacional de Energía (CNE), the national regulator, holds an important consultative and regulatory role. RES-E electricity generation facilities in Spain are entitled to priority access to the grid, priority dispatching (if entitled to the feed-in tariff (FiT) support) and guaranteed purchase of electricity whenever security is guaranteed.

The transmission system operator, REE, is also responsible for drafting the annual power demand evolution forecasts for the medium and long term. These forecasts are essential in order to draw up the transmission grid development plans for the upcoming years, and need to be approved by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade.

Energy regulator Date of creation: 

National Energy Commission (CNE)

The National Energy Commission -CNE- (Comisión Nacional de la Energía) of Spain is the regulator of energy systems, created by Law 34/1998 of October 7, the hydrocarbons sector, and developed by Royal Decree 1339/1999 of 31 July, which adopted its regulation.

On 5th June 2013, the Spanish Official Gazette (BOE) published Act 3/2013, dated 4th June, on the creation of the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC). The objective of this Act is to merge, under the new Commission, the functions and powers of the Spanish competition authority and other six independent bodies that were entitled to promote competition and monitor well-functioning of certain markets (among them, the National Regulatory Authority on energy, Comisión Nacional de Energía).

Degree of independence: 

The National Energy Commission is governed by a Board of Directors, composed of the President, Vice-President, six Directors and a Secretary, with voice but no vote. The President, Vice President and Directors are appointed by the Government of Spain, by Royal Decree on the proposal of Minister of Industry, for a term of six years, which could not be removed and may not be nominated by more than 2 terms (max 12).

The National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) is created as a public body with its own legal personality and full capacity to act, with the aim of ensuring well-functioning, transparency and effective competition in every market or area of production. It is independent from the Spanish Government, and also from any public body or private agents of the market.

The Board of the National Commission of Markets and Competition is entitled to adopt the Commission’s decisions. The members of the Board can meet in plenary session or in chambers. There are two chambers: Competition Chamber and Regulatory Monitoring Chamber; each of them integrated by five commissioners. Four Departments have the responsibility of the preliminary investigations: Competition Department, Telecommunications Department, Energy Department and Transport & Postal Department.

Regulatory framework for sustainable energy: 

In Spain, the generation of electricity from renewable sources is mainly promoted through a price regulation system. Plant operators may choose between two options: a guaranteed feed-in tariff and a guaranteed bonus (premium) paid on top of the electricity price achieved on the wholesale market. The price regulation system is currently phased out through Real Decreto-ley 9/2013. The reason for this suspension is traced in the preamble of RDL 1/2012. A different regulation that had previously suspended the support schemes, before their final phasing out: RD 6/2009 established that by 2013 a part of the consumers’ electricity bill (the “peajes the acceso”) should be able to fully balance the costs incurred by the State arising from the support scheme. It is deemed, however, that the present situation will not allow this goal to be reached by 2013. For this reason, and together with the high growth of RES-E in the past years, even beyond the set goals, all support schemes for RES-E were suspended by RDL 1/2012 and subsequently blocked by RDL 9/2013.

Regulatory roles: 

The CNE monitors the management of energy systems and their operational objectivity and transparency, to the benefit of individuals working in the sector as well as consumers. It also has a partial role in enforcing the Spanish competition rules within the energy sector (apart from general competition aspects, which fall to the National Commission of Markets and Competition).

Role of government department in energy regulation: 

Final legislative control for the regulation of the energy sector in Spain resides with the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, and entities wishing to operate in the Spanish electricity sector must first undergo a registration procedure with the Ministry.

Regulatory barriers: 

As electricity costs have continuously increased and, at the same time, the government (due to the economic crisis and for political reasons) has not equally increased the tariffs for access to the electricity grid (paid by the consumers), in the last few years there has been a "tariff deficit" (that is, the income obtained from the tariffs has not been enough to cover the electricity companies' costs, including incentives for renewable installations). This difference has been covered by the major electricity companies, but they have a right to recover (with accrued interest) the amounts paid from the tariffs for access to the electricity grid, approved by the government.

Several measures have been approved to reduce the tariff deficit. These measures (including restrictions on the FIT regime for existing renewable installations and the moratorium on incentives for new renewable installations) and the decrease in electricity demand amount to clear obstacles for the development of renewables in Spain.


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