Spain celebrates Wind Energy Day, with good reason

Though irresolute decisions cast a bleak shadow over the impending climate change summit, Spain, by producing over half its national power demand by wind, has single-handedly sparked renewable energy joy amid the gloom.

Although climate change talks may have collapsed over the weekend as ministers failed to agree on a financial package for the Copenhagen summit next month, it is not stopping Spain from celebrating their own Wind Energy Day today. And considering the country smashed its way into the renewable energy record books on Sunday by supplying 53 percent of the total nationwide electricity requirements by wind energy, they have a lot to celebrate.

Thanks to rigorous winds ripping their way across the lands, a record 11,546 megawatts of wind power was registered in Spain on November 9. For the first time ever, the electricity generated from Spain’s vast amount of wind farms surpassed the power produced by the country’s electricity grid, a milestone cited as a huge triumph in the renewable energy industry.

Not only did the achievement quiet the pessimists who just five years ago said Spain would be hard pushed to generate 14 percent of its electricity demand from wind power, the country now looks on target to produce almost four times as much wind power than this weekend’s record. Jose Donoso, Chairman of the Spanish Eolic Business Association, told the El Pais newspaper that he hopes wind power production will continue to rise and reach 40,000 megawatts in 2020.

Luis Atienza, Chairman of Red Electrica de Espana, was equally excited about the record-breaking achievements.

“No other country the same size as us has managed to generate over 50 percent of its electricity requirements using renewable energy for so long,” Atienza told El Pais, saying the country deserves admiration and is right to celebrate its achievement.

At the vanguard of Spain’s wind power revolution, with over five billion euros invested in 161 wind farms, is the province of Castilla y Leon. Today the region is celebrating the Wind Energy Day, and under the slogan “Toward a New Energy Model,” a series of seminars and workshops have been set up to scrutinize the impact of wind power in the province and the country as a whole.

Andalucia has in recent years also experienced a massive surge in the number of towering turbines sprouting up across the countryside. Of those who have witnessed the surge is Antonia Sanchez, who lives in Caniles, a small and particularly windswept village in the province of Granada, which is wisely reaping the benefits of its meteorological conditions with the installation of several nearby wind farms. Antonia told RT that both the authorities and the locals have a real commitment to harnessing energy from the wind and the growing number of wind turbines in the area is widely welcomed.

“At first I was a bit skeptical as to whether wind farms like the ones near us would actually make a dent in the fight to tackle climate change,” Sanchez said. “But now that Spain is experiencing periods where over half of the national electricity demands are being supplied by wind power, I feel proud to be part of it.”

The level of commitment the Spanish have in harnessing renewable types of energy is shown in the May report of the Ideas Foundation for Progress, “New Energy Model for Spain.” The 154-page report highlights recommendations for energy development and managing climate change, not just in Spain but globally. The executive summary in the booklet asserts:

“Spain, and other countries throughout the world, faces a major historical challenge in the forthcoming future as a result of climate change and the depletion of fossil fuels. Spain cannot afford to look away, but must rather lead the field in providing European responses so as to overcome these challenges.”

The widespread loyalty shown by Spanish organizations toward counteracting climate change and years of nurture by the government has finally paid off. Spain is not only “leading the field in providing European responses,” its record-breaking achievements in the wind power sector remain unmatched.

While a storm of disparity burdens the run up to the climate change summit, mainly due to unresolved financial agreements, the stormy skies that saddled Spain this weekend mean that the reasoning behind wind power drawbacks are a lot less viable. While world leaders gripe and disagree about the means of raising the cash to achieve a cleaner and greener globe, few could deny that exploiting energy from the wind pays, and through persistence and dedication, Spain has become the global hero in the pledge for wind generated power. The Spanish rarely need an excuse for a celebration, but this time they deserve it.

Gabrielle Pickard for RT