Emerging Renewable Energy Technologies in Spain

As we make our way through 2024, Spain finds itself navigating an important energy transition phase with lots of opportunities to build more energy storage systems, resolve supply chain issues, and phase out fossil fuels. These three priorities reflect the views of business leaders across Europe, including Spain, for a successful energy transition. Read on to explore Spain's advancements in renewable energy, focusing on three key areas: Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS), Biomass, and Green Hydrogen. 

 

Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) 

An important component of Spain's renewable energy strategy is the development and deployment of Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS). These systems are essential for managing the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. By storing excess energy during peak production times and releasing it during periods of high demand, BESS ensures the stability and reliability of the electricity grid. 

Iberdrola's BESS Initiatives 

Iberdrola, a leading energy company in Spain, is set to enhance the country’s energy storage capabilities by installing six new BESS facilities across Castilla y León, Extremadura, Castilla La Mancha, and Andalusia. With a total capacity of 150 MW, these installations will significantly enhance Spain’s ability to integrate renewable energy into the national grid. 

Each of the six batteries will have a power output of 25 MW and a storage capacity of 50 MW-hours, utilising lithium-ion technology which is known for its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. These systems will operate as hybrid systems, paired with solar energy sources, optimising the use of existing infrastructure and minimising environmental impact. 

 

Biomass 

Biomass energy, derived from organic materials such as wood, plants, and agricultural waste, is another key player in Spain's renewable energy market. This technology not only provides a renewable energy source but also supports rural development and forest management. 

ACCIONA Energía’s Biomass Projects 

ACCIONA Energía is a leader in biomass energy, operating several large biomass plants throughout Spain. The Sangüesa biomass plant in Navarre, operational since 2002, has a capacity of 30.2 MW. Its three operating biomass plants generate together more than 400 GWh/year, equivalent to the electricity consumption of around 100,000 households, and avoid the release of about 175,000 tonnes of CO2? into the atmosphere by replacing fossil fuel generation. 

ACCIONA’s new project in Logrosán (Cáceres) is set to become one of the largest biomass plants in Spain, with a capacity of 49.9 MW. The estimated production of the plant will amount to 376GWh/year, which will reduce annual CO2 emissions by 165,000 tons, the equivalent to the effect of removing 65,000 cars from the road or planting 300,000 trees. 

This biomass plant will consume 261,000 metric tons of agricultural and forestry biomass annually, primarily sourced from the surrounding area. This initiative boosts the local economy by promoting activities for the use of agricultural and forestry waste, and also aids in wildfire conservation by encouraging the clearing of combustible materials from forests. The project has received a favourable Environmental Impact Declaration from the Regional Ministry for Ecological Transition and Sustainability of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura. It started its construction in the second quarter of 2023, with energy production expected to begin in the second half of 2025. 

 

Green Hydrogen 

Green hydrogen, produced through the electrolysis of water using renewable energy, can decarbonise industries that are hard to electrify and serve as a sustainable energy carrier.  

The separated hydrogen can be used in the production of steel, ammonia and chemical products, all of which require industrial processes that are harder to transition from fossil fuels. Hydrogen can also be used as a transportation fuel, which could one day transform the highly polluting shipping and?aviation?sectors. 

Spain has made impressive progress in green hydrogen, surpassing its 2030 targets with 15.5 GW of capacity already in place. Spain’s large, windswept and sparsely populated territory receives more than 2,500 hours of sunshine on average per year. This provides ideal conditions for wind and solar energy, and therefore green hydrogen production. 

The Spanish government’s Hydrogen Roadmap and the Spanish Hydrogen Association (AeH2) are key in mapping and fostering hydrogen technology across the country. These initiatives work to boost the development of hydrogen technologies and position Spain as a leader in the shift towards a hydrogen-based economy.  

Key Projects in Andalusia 

In Andalusia, a couple of significant green hydrogen projects are underway. In Huelva, Cepsa leads a major project in Palos de la Frontera with a 1 GW electrolysis capacity, starting with 400 MW operational by 2026. Partnering with Fertiberia and Enalter, this project aims to decarbonise local industry and produce renewable fuels for heavy transport.  

Another project in Andalusia is the Green Methanol Plant at the port of Huelva, developed by Cepsa and C2X. This plant, set to become Europe’s largest green methanol facility, will have an annual production capacity of 300,000 tons and is expected to start operations in 2028, significantly reducing emissions in maritime transport. 

In Cádiz, Cepsa, in collaboration with EDP and Yara Clean Ammonia, is developing another 1 GW electrolysis capacity project. Commencing in 2027, it will decarbonise local industries and produce 750,000 tons of ammonia annually, with plans to export ammonia to the port of Rotterdam, creating a green hydrogen corridor between southern and northern Europe.  

 

Large-Scale Hydrogen Transport  

Innovations in hydrogen transport are also evolving. The LOHC (Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier) solution allows hydrogen to be converted into methylcyclohexane (MCH) through the hydrogenation of toluene, facilitating storage and transportation at ambient temperature without the need for costly cooling. This innovative process ensures that hydrogen can be transported over long distances by ships, trains, or trucks and released at its destination via MCH dehydrogenation, while the toluene is reused in new cycles. 

A notable project in this technology is the world’s first bulk hydrogen carrier transport and storage system, initiated by Exolum in Immingham in the UK. This project, which repurposes existing pipeline and tank infrastructures, will store and transport 400 m³ of LOHC with about 20 tons of hydrogen, equivalent to 2 million kilometres in a hydrogen car. Exolum is further advancing green hydrogen production with the construction of integrated production and dispatch plants in the Community of Madrid in Spain and Stockton-on-Tees in the UK, showcasing their commitment to sustainable transport and global energy transition. 

 

Their Impact on Job Opportunities in Spain 

The expansion of renewable energy technologies in Spain, specifically in the areas of BESS, biomass, and hydrogen, is significantly boosting job creation and economic activity. These developments, such as new installations and plants, will generate numerous jobs across the renewable energy sector. 

Rafael Mateo, CEO of ACCIONA Energía, stated: “Biomass helps to reduce emissions, and, in addition, it has proven to be the technology that creates the most jobs, reactivating rural areas thanks to the direct, indirect and induced employment generated by the collection and handling of plant waste used as fuel."  

In addition, the green hydrogen developments from Cepsa and its investment of up to 5 billion Euros in Andalusia is expected to generate 17,000 new jobs, according to an article from CIC EnergiGune. 

Collectively, these initiatives are transforming Spain's energy transition and contributing to a sustainable future for the country. 

Whether you are interested in hearing more about the Spanish renewable energy market, are actively seeking your next position, or are looking for the best talent to fill your roles, we offer tailored solutions to meet all your needs. 

We recognise the growth and potential of emerging renewable technologies in Spain. As a global renewable energy recruitment company, we are committed to connecting top talent with rewarding career opportunities in the renewable energy sector. 

Click here to learn more about our Spain & LATAM renewable energy recruitment services and reach out to our lovely team of experts. We are always ready to assist you. 

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