Facilitating and Supporting Renewable Energy Sources

Ricardo Gonzalez Mantero, FEDARENE Vice-President for Renewable Energy Sources, discusses the essential role of energy agencies and regions in facilitating and supporting renewable energy sources with a real example featuring the installation of 6.300 MW of wind power in the region of Castilla y León by EREN.

Facilitating and Supporting Renewable Energy Sources

We all in FEDARENE agree in the essential role of energy agencies and regions in facilitating and supporting renewable energy sources. Local and regional energy agencies remain an important force in the adoption of some of the most ambitious regional renewable energy policies and programmes in Europe.

This is where the energy agencies enter the discussion with their vast knowledge on and firsthand experience of their region. The best way to verify this statement is with a real example: how EREN and Castilla y León have facilitated and supported the installation of 6.300 MW of wind power in this 94.226 km2 region.

The regional Decree regulating windfarm installations in Castilla y León has been in force since 1997, with no modifications during these 25 years. The Regional Wind Plan, developed by EREN with ALTENER support in 1999-2000, established a land classification according to its potential for hosting windfarms, considering the environmental and cultural constraints. This tool gives an indication of what to expect from the environmental impact assessment of each windfarm and is involved in the connection of windfarms to the electricity grid, planning the adaptation to the capacity of different nodes in the grid, and trying to reduce the number of lines to a minimum, thus reducing environmental impact as much as possible.

At this stage, the ongoing dialogue with the Operator of the Spanish Electricity System to plan the necessary investments enabling the future windfarms to be connected to the grid, the adjustment of the windfarm authorizations to the grid capacities, and put in place requirements to provide security of power supply recommended by the System Operator is a crucial part of this project. During this period, the establishment and maintenance of a relationship of trust between the regional environmental and energy administration officials is something unusual but very necessary. To this end, Castilla y León Wind Energy Promoters Association serves as a means of maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the wind developers and industry.

As this example shows, benefiting from the experience of energy agencies, a successful and stable regulation over time and a clear planning from an environmental and territorial point of view has produced successful results. Energy agencies play a big role in supporting local and regional authorities, using their knowledge of the local value chains and building their capacity to develop and finance projects, but much more technical assistance is needed to fill in the knowledge gap. With their initiatives, I am sure that most of these good practices are replicable in all regions of Europe, in order to achieve an orderly development of renewable energy sources, and obtaining the greatest possible economic activity and employment from it.