Madrid, Spain — Red Electrica reported this week that Spain generated nearly 3% of its electricity from solar energy in 2010.
Despite withering criticism of Spain’s once-thriving solar industry, projects installed during the boom years of 2007 and 2008 are producing commercial quantities of electricity.
The network operator’s preliminary report on 2010 says that solar energy produced 6.9 TWh last year from 4,000 MW of generating capacity, mostly solar photovoltaics (PV), for 2.7% of supply.
Wind turbines generated nearly 43 TWh in 2010 for 16.4% of supply, slightly more than hydroelectricity. Spain’s hydro plants produced more electricity last year, 38 TWh, than anytime since 1997.
The new renewables of wind and solar in combination provided 19% of supply.
Together both new and conventional renewables delivered 34% of Spain’s electricity.
Spain’s climate, geography, and population are similar to that of California. Spain’s 46 million inhabitants consume some 260 TWh per year.
California’s 37 million people consume about 300 TWh per year. However, wind energy generates less than 6 TWh per year and solar less than 1 TWh per year. Together wind and solar provide only 2% of California’s electricity.