Spain, one of the world’s leaders in terms of renewable energy generation, met its electricity demand without any input from coal-fired power plants for a full day. The developments follow a trend of decarbonization in the country, which is seen as an example for the rest of the world.
The nation’s first day without any coal occurred from 23:50 local time on December 13 until 21:20 on December 15, making December 14 a full day without any coal-fired plants sending electricity to the national grid. The achievement only covered the peninsular system as Spain’s non-mainland area of the Balearic islands continued to use electricity from coal.
On that faithful day, coal power was scheduled to deliver 252MWh of energy, however, a peak in wind power generation, which hit an hourly average of 16.41GW, encouraged utilities to decouple coal for the day.
Spain, which receives ample sunlight and has an extensive solar energy capacity, nearly didn’t need coal during the summer. However, due to technical constraints in the distribution network in the northern region of Asturias, the country could not go coal-free during this timeframe. Even so, it used very little fossil fuels to generate electricity last summer — only one of 25 coal-fired power units in mainland Spain operated for several days during the summer.
The country has many ambitious plans for the future. Last year, the government announced its intention to go fully-renewable by 2050 while also scrapping a controversial “sun tax” that hampered the country’s booming renewable energy sector.