Despite withering criticism of Spain’s once-thriving solar industry, projects installed during the boom years of 2007 and 2008 are producing commercial quantities of electricity. The network operator’s 2010 preliminary report states that solar energy produced 6.9 TWh last year from 4,000 megawatts of generating capacity – mostly photovoltaics – for 2.7 percent of supply.
Wind turbines, on the other hand, generated nearly 43 TWh in 2010 for 16.4 percent of supply – slightly more than hydroelectricity. However, the country’s hydro plants produced more electricity last year, 38 TWh, than anytime since 1997.
The new renewables of wind and solar combined provided 19 percent of supply. Overall, both new and conventional renewables delivered 34 percent of Spain’s electricity.
Spain’s climate, geography, and population are similar to that of California. The countrys 46 million inhabitants consume some 260 TWh per year. In comparison, the U.S. state’s population of 37 million consume about 300 TWh per year. However, wind energy generates less than six TWh per year and solar less than one TWh per year. Together, wind and solar provide only two percent of California’s electricity.