From Beyond Zero Emissions:On March 20th Spain's wind power generation rose to contribute 27 per cent of the country's total daily power demands, surpassing supplies by nuclear and coal. This is a new record for contribution of wind-generated power at a given time to their electricity grid. As projected this occurred without any stability issues.
Spain's installed wind power capacity is the second highest in the world at 11,615 Mega Watts (MW). Half of the country's wind farm fleet is constructed of older technology with much less efficiency than what is currently available. Spain will increase installed wind capacity to 20,000MW by 2010 and are adding 2000MW in the year 2007.
Spain's electricity grid is approximately the same size of Australia's NEM (National Electricity Market) Grid, making it a prime model for comparison. Spain's success with wind power also presents an exciting opportunity for Australia to follow its renewable lead, given Spain's poor wind and solar potential energy resources when compared to Australia.
The Global Wind Energy Council reported a record boom in the wind energy markets across 70 countries for 2006. Despite formidable political barriers, wind power has earned its place as a mainstream energy source.
Geographically Australia is 15 times the size of Spain, with only half of Spain's population. With around one thirtieth of Spain's population density, Australia has a phenomenal capacity for wind generation that remains untapped.
Beyond Zero Emission's Renewable Stationary Energy proposal shows that Victoria can generate 12,000MW of wind power using only 1% of its land area. This estimate is based on already available commercial technologies, as well as requiring robust policy frameworks and political commitment.
Beyond Zero Emissions have marked out Victoria's opportunity to move its energy supplies to near-100% wind power, boosted by gas and hydro in peak periods. Gas and hydro boosts would eventually be replaced by solar thermal technologies, resulting in 100% of Victoria's energysourced entirely from renewables.
"Developments worldwide show that the global wind energy industry is clearly competitive in big energy markets, achieving sustained growth despite being denied excessive subsidies that fossil-fuel industries and other non-renewables enjoy" said Matthew Wright, author of BZE's Renewable Stationary Energy scoping document.
Spain aspires to be sourcing 30% of its electricity from renewables by 2010, half of this to be supplied by wind power. At the sub-national level autonomous regions including Navarra have aimed to source 100% of their energy requirements from renewables by 2010.
With the introduction of state based renewable energy targets, Australia's political climate is just right for planning a national energy transition to 100% renewables.
Wind power's established role as one of Europe's mainstream energy sources has yet to resonate in Australia. Now that Spain has demonstrated the success of wind power to supply a significant proportion of its required energy, Australia's wind power production should now take off with the support of matured wind generation technologies and sophisticated turbine models.