BILBAO, Spain – Spain has the most ambitious national plan for renewables of any country in the EU surpassing the European Commission’s expectations, WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson told New Europe on 2 April in Bilbao.

Spain has moved closer towards meeting its 2020 target. “In the first instance Spain installed last year 400 MW of new wind farm capacity. Crucially this year Spain is adding another 4 GW of new wind capacity to that – building the new wind farms that won the auctions that took place back in 2017,” Dickson said in an interview on the sidelines of the WindEurope conference and exhibition in Bilbao.

“But let’s get beyond 2020 and look at 2030. Spain is now finalizing its National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030. And Spain has the most ambitious national plan of any country in Europe in terms of the volume of new renewables that it plans to build,” Dickson said, noting that Spain is setting a 2030 target that renewables should be 42% of all of Spain’s energy, which is higher than what the European Commission anticipated would be Spain’s fair share towards the EU target of 32%. “This target of 42% would entail significant further expansion every year of wind energy of at least 2 GW of new wind capacity every year in Spain. So this is very encouraging,” the WindEurope CEO said.

However, Dickson noted that there is discrepancy between EU member states in terms of meeting their renewable energy targets for 2030. “There’s a lot of work to do on these draft National Energy and Climate Plans,” he said. “They’re not bad in terms of the headline pledges and numbers, but they’re lacking the detail on the policy measures that countries are going to pursue which will help them deliver those pledges,” Dickson said, adding that without the detail on the policy measures, those pledges and those plans are not meaningful. “So we’re not there yet,” he quipped.

Asked what the EU can do to attract more investment in renewables, Dickson said the wind energy industry, like any other sector of the economy, always needs regulatory stability in order to mobilize investment. “For the wind energy industry this means above all else the prospective of stable revenues when you build a wind farm. Now auctions, which is the system that governments use today for launching new wind farm capacity, provide that level of revenue stability because you bid into an auction, you say, ‘I will operate a wind farm of this size for this level of electricity price’. And the lowest bidder wins and then he is guaranteed that revenue for, let us say, the first 15 years of the life of his project. That enables the investor then, the developer to attract financial investors and enables him to reduce and minimize the cost of capital linked to the development of his wind farm,” Dickson said.

Turning to electricity storage, which is important when demand for electricity is low at night, Dickson noted that “great advances” are being made on electricity storage. He explained that many wind farms are now being built with batteries units inside them and those batteries are being used for store electricity for balancing the electricity system, providing frequency control.

“At this stage, it’s not just storage that matters but also flexibility in the electricity market and balancing the variable supply that winds feeds into the system with variable demand. And demand response is very important here and Europe now has 20 GW of installed demand response capacity. That’s very positive. We’ll have 100 GW by 2030 if not more and that’s extremely encouraging,” he said, adding that on the supply side, wind turbines are also becoming more flexible. “We’re able to operate at lower wind speeds so we’re capturing more wind and capacity factors are going up,” Dickson said, adding that it is becoming easier and cheaper to integrate wind energy in the rest of the energy system.

follow on twitter @energyinsider