Spain’s concentrated solar power or CSP (pictured) and technological boosts could help renewables provide 85 per cent of the sun-kissed nation’s power by 2030, a study has argued.
The industry body Protermosolar said the complete elimination of coal and nuclear from the electricity system was possible with a 92-per-cent cut in carbon emissions and lower costs.
Protermosolar developed a model, using consumption data from 2014 to 2017, after a government-commissioned report this year asked how to generate 296 terawatt-hours a year by 2030.
The report predicted Spain would need to keep its coal and nuclear capacity and build out almost 24.6 gigawatts of combined-cycle gas generation to serve as a backup to around 47 gigawatts of photovoltaic power, about 10 times the current amount.
The Protermosolar model would cut carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions by around 81 per cent from last year’s levels.
Protermosolar aimed to add 17.7 gigawatts of concentrated solar power to Spain’s existing 2.3 gigawatts, imagining that all the new CSP capacity would be equipped with around 15 hours of thermal storage. Envisioning technological advances, it said installations should store energy during the daytime and send it back into the grid at night.
Wind power could also be used to reduce even out the boom or bust supply provided by solar.
In the first two quarters of this year, the output of wind farms in Spain grew by 10.4 per cent year on year to 27,779 GWh, and was equal to a share of 22.6 per cent of total power, grid operator Red Electrica de Espana (REE) reported. Wind was the leading energy source in power generation, followed by nuclear energy with 20.6 per cent and hydropower with 16.9 per cent.
Solar, both photovoltaics and CSP, produced 4.6 per cent of Spain’s power in the period.
Around 23GW of hydro and pumped hydro, 15.8GW of combined-cycle gas, 8.5GW of cogeneration and 5GW of biomass and biogas, along with energy imports, would fill gaps left by wind and solar, Protermosolar argued.
It assumed there would be technological improvements. Lazard estimated that power would cost US$98-181 per megawatt-hour from Spain’s solar thermal towers with storage.
In June, the pro-renewables, Socialist administration formed a minority administration and a former chief of Abengoa, one of the world’s leading CSP pioneers, was given the energy portfolio.
In the first six months of the year, renewables produced 45.8 per cent of Spanish power, up by 8.5 percentage points from the first half of last year, REE said this month.
Spain could have a solar future. Picture credit: Wikimedia