Europe has managed to have enough gas. In return, it is destroying the leadership of renewables

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We may have done our homework and this winter we won’t have any problems. Europe is aware of the possible lack of gas and has completed its reserves. But we live in an almost perverse situation. Instead of reducing energy consumption, we are acting almost as if nothing has changed. Gas has gone from being a last-minute solution to leading electricity generation this year.

Is it necessary to remember what pollutes? The gas combined cycle is the type of energy that generates the most CO2 emissions in Spain. With difference. According to Electricity Network data, this year 22 million tons of CO2 have been emitted due to gas. By comparison, coal has emitted 6.5 million tons.

In other words, gas is already responsible for contaminating three times more than coal in Spain. An “achievement” motivated mainly by the enormous volume of combined cycle that is being used, to the detriment of a coal that despite everything is going down.

It is the year of gas. To the detriment of renewables. One might think that since gas is expensive, less will be produced and other types of energy will be chosen. Unfortunately it has not been so. Spain has taken advantage of its status as a granary of Europe to produce gas, taking advantage of the fact that it can export it at a good price. What for countries like Germany is a necessity, for Spain it has been an opportunity.

The consequence? Well, the generation of renewables such as wind power has been reduced. The cap on gas has helped lower the price of energy but has also had a rebound effect. If we look at the data from Red Eléctrica, since June the combined cycle has grown significantly.


Since June, gas generation (combined cycle – yellow) has skyrocketed, to the detriment of wind power (green). Image: Electric Network

If this continues, the gas will be the first source of energy. It is not a trivial fact. Nuclear power had been the leading source of energy in Spain for more than 10 years. Except last year, where wind power achieved the milestone of becoming the first source of energy. But the landscape of 2022 is very different.

This year, the gas combined cycle has been responsible for generating 57,000 GWh, while nuclear power is 45,000 GWh and wind power is 46,000 GWh.

A very sad fact. We will see what happens at the end of the year, but if gas remains in first position, we will achieve a negative milestone. Not only would it be the first year that a polluting energy source is the most widely used, but we will also have broken the record for wind energy overnight. What had taken a decade to achieve (surpass nuclear), no longer seems to be possible.

The growth of renewables eclipsed. Fortunately, this does not mean that renewables have not continued to grow. This 2022 has been marked wind and solar power generation records in Europe. What happens is that in Spain they have been overshadowed by a much more precipitous growth in gas.

Enduring the energy crisis by forgetting about the environmental crisis. During these months we have obtained enormous gas reserves. So much so that the methane tankers are beginning to turn around. Spain has enough reserves to last a little over a month and up to 50 days if restrictions apply. This suggests that there will be no supply cuts in winter, unless the cold is extreme and these reserves are not sufficient. What is surplus now, may be lacking again tomorrow.

Spain has more gas at this time than during the last five years. Right now we have plenty, although it is true that this can change overnight. The price to pay for this is very high. We have forgotten about CO2 emissions and the environmental crisis. This winter may finally be bearable and Europe will have covered its back, but it has done so at the cost of energy that we were supposed to phase out.

Image | American Public Power Association

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We may have done our homework and this winter we won’t have any problems. Europe is aware of the possible…

We may have done our homework and this winter we won’t have any problems. Europe is aware of the possible…

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