The darkest year in the history of wind energy in Spain

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Richard Heap
July 25, 2016
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The darkest year in the history of wind energy in Spain

Something unique happened in Spanish politics last December: there was a general election and nobody won.

For the first time since the country regained its democracy, in 1978, the alternation of power between Spain’s two main parties was interrupted by the arrival of two significant newcomers.

The conservative People's Party (Partido Popular or PP) and the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español or PSOE) lost votes to two upstart parties feeding off citizen discontent.

Left-wing Podemos (‘We Can’) and liberal Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’) promised to offer a newer, cleaner form of government to an electorate tired of the PP and the PSOE’s long histories of corruption and cronyism. It wasn’t to be, though.

With no clear winner in the elections, the parties grudgingly set about creating alliances to earn a parliamentary majority — and failed. After six months, Spain went back to the polls for a second attempt to select an administration.

The results of the election last month were largely overshadowed by Britain’s decision to abandon the European Union, just three days earlier. Never mind. Little has changed.

The PP, which had been in power up until last December and has been acting as a caretaker government since, emerged ahead of the pack with better result than it had achieved six months ago.

But with just 137 seats in a 350-seat parliament, it is still some way off being able to govern unless the other parties support it or abstain from voting against it. On that front, the noises coming from the PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos are not encouraging. But any alliance between these three parties seems fraught, too.

In fact, statisticians have been having a field day trying to work out if any combination of parties at all is likely to work. Could this mean Spaniards will have to face a third general election?

Almost all party leaders have said that's the last thing they want to put the country through. So it looks as though some agreement to allow the PP to govern in minority might ultimately take place.

And that's where things get sticky for the wind industry. It is no exaggeration to say that the PP’s latest spell in administration, from 2011 to 2015, was the worst thing that’s ever happened to Spain’s renewable energy industry.

Among austerity measures aimed at pulling Spain out of recession and eliminating a massive tariff deficit, the PP axed feed-in tariffs for wind power and replaced them with a formula that made new projects practically unviable.

The upshot was that developers didn’t install a single megawatt of capacity last year, leading the Spanish wind industry association to name 2015 “the darkest in the history of wind energy in Spain”.

The savageness of the PP’s cuts has led many to believe there is more going on here than a simple desire to correct the economy.

Many ex-ministers from the party, including the EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete, have links with utilities and petrochemical firms threatened by the rise of wind and solar in Spain.

That’s why most renewable energy interests were hoping for the PP to lose out to one of its rivals last December, since all the other major parties have pledged to repeal the PP’s energy law. Such an option now seems unlikely. Instead, the outcome of the latest electoral round seemingly makes it more difficult for a coalition of political forces to wrest control from the PP.

And even if the PP ends up leading a minority government, it is unclear whether opposition parties will have the ‘cojones’, as they say in Spanish, to force it to back down on energy policy.

Something unique happened in Spanish politics last December: there was a general election and nobody won.

For the first time since the country regained its democracy, in 1978, the alternation of power between Spain’s two main parties was interrupted by the arrival of two significant newcomers.

The conservative People's Party (Partido Popular or PP) and the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español or PSOE) lost votes to two upstart parties feeding off citizen discontent.

Left-wing Podemos (‘We Can’) and liberal Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’) promised to offer a newer, cleaner form of government to an electorate tired of the PP and the PSOE’s long histories of corruption and cronyism. It wasn’t to be, though.

With no clear winner in the elections, the parties grudgingly set about creating alliances to earn a parliamentary majority — and failed. After six months, Spain went back to the polls for a second attempt to select an administration.

The results of the election last month were largely overshadowed by Britain’s decision to abandon the European Union, just three days earlier. Never mind. Little has changed.

The PP, which had been in power up until last December and has been acting as a caretaker government since, emerged ahead of the pack with better result than it had achieved six months ago.

But with just 137 seats in a 350-seat parliament, it is still some way off being able to govern unless the other parties support it or abstain from voting against it. On that front, the noises coming from the PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos are not encouraging. But any alliance between these three parties seems fraught, too.

In fact, statisticians have been having a field day trying to work out if any combination of parties at all is likely to work. Could this mean Spaniards will have to face a third general election?

Almost all party leaders have said that's the last thing they want to put the country through. So it looks as though some agreement to allow the PP to govern in minority might ultimately take place.

And that's where things get sticky for the wind industry. It is no exaggeration to say that the PP’s latest spell in administration, from 2011 to 2015, was the worst thing that’s ever happened to Spain’s renewable energy industry.

Among austerity measures aimed at pulling Spain out of recession and eliminating a massive tariff deficit, the PP axed feed-in tariffs for wind power and replaced them with a formula that made new projects practically unviable.

The upshot was that developers didn’t install a single megawatt of capacity last year, leading the Spanish wind industry association to name 2015 “the darkest in the history of wind energy in Spain”.

The savageness of the PP’s cuts has led many to believe there is more going on here than a simple desire to correct the economy.

Many ex-ministers from the party, including the EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete, have links with utilities and petrochemical firms threatened by the rise of wind and solar in Spain.

That’s why most renewable energy interests were hoping for the PP to lose out to one of its rivals last December, since all the other major parties have pledged to repeal the PP’s energy law. Such an option now seems unlikely. Instead, the outcome of the latest electoral round seemingly makes it more difficult for a coalition of political forces to wrest control from the PP.

And even if the PP ends up leading a minority government, it is unclear whether opposition parties will have the ‘cojones’, as they say in Spanish, to force it to back down on energy policy.

Something unique happened in Spanish politics last December: there was a general election and nobody won.

For the first time since the country regained its democracy, in 1978, the alternation of power between Spain’s two main parties was interrupted by the arrival of two significant newcomers.

The conservative People's Party (Partido Popular or PP) and the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español or PSOE) lost votes to two upstart parties feeding off citizen discontent.

Left-wing Podemos (‘We Can’) and liberal Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’) promised to offer a newer, cleaner form of government to an electorate tired of the PP and the PSOE’s long histories of corruption and cronyism. It wasn’t to be, though.

With no clear winner in the elections, the parties grudgingly set about creating alliances to earn a parliamentary majority — and failed. After six months, Spain went back to the polls for a second attempt to select an administration.

The results of the election last month were largely overshadowed by Britain’s decision to abandon the European Union, just three days earlier. Never mind. Little has changed.

The PP, which had been in power up until last December and has been acting as a caretaker government since, emerged ahead of the pack with better result than it had achieved six months ago.

But with just 137 seats in a 350-seat parliament, it is still some way off being able to govern unless the other parties support it or abstain from voting against it. On that front, the noises coming from the PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos are not encouraging. But any alliance between these three parties seems fraught, too.

In fact, statisticians have been having a field day trying to work out if any combination of parties at all is likely to work. Could this mean Spaniards will have to face a third general election?

Almost all party leaders have said that's the last thing they want to put the country through. So it looks as though some agreement to allow the PP to govern in minority might ultimately take place.

And that's where things get sticky for the wind industry. It is no exaggeration to say that the PP’s latest spell in administration, from 2011 to 2015, was the worst thing that’s ever happened to Spain’s renewable energy industry.

Among austerity measures aimed at pulling Spain out of recession and eliminating a massive tariff deficit, the PP axed feed-in tariffs for wind power and replaced them with a formula that made new projects practically unviable.

The upshot was that developers didn’t install a single megawatt of capacity last year, leading the Spanish wind industry association to name 2015 “the darkest in the history of wind energy in Spain”.

The savageness of the PP’s cuts has led many to believe there is more going on here than a simple desire to correct the economy.

Many ex-ministers from the party, including the EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete, have links with utilities and petrochemical firms threatened by the rise of wind and solar in Spain.

That’s why most renewable energy interests were hoping for the PP to lose out to one of its rivals last December, since all the other major parties have pledged to repeal the PP’s energy law. Such an option now seems unlikely. Instead, the outcome of the latest electoral round seemingly makes it more difficult for a coalition of political forces to wrest control from the PP.

And even if the PP ends up leading a minority government, it is unclear whether opposition parties will have the ‘cojones’, as they say in Spanish, to force it to back down on energy policy.

Something unique happened in Spanish politics last December: there was a general election and nobody won.

For the first time since the country regained its democracy, in 1978, the alternation of power between Spain’s two main parties was interrupted by the arrival of two significant newcomers.

The conservative People's Party (Partido Popular or PP) and the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español or PSOE) lost votes to two upstart parties feeding off citizen discontent.

Left-wing Podemos (‘We Can’) and liberal Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’) promised to offer a newer, cleaner form of government to an electorate tired of the PP and the PSOE’s long histories of corruption and cronyism. It wasn’t to be, though.

With no clear winner in the elections, the parties grudgingly set about creating alliances to earn a parliamentary majority — and failed. After six months, Spain went back to the polls for a second attempt to select an administration.

The results of the election last month were largely overshadowed by Britain’s decision to abandon the European Union, just three days earlier. Never mind. Little has changed.

The PP, which had been in power up until last December and has been acting as a caretaker government since, emerged ahead of the pack with better result than it had achieved six months ago.

But with just 137 seats in a 350-seat parliament, it is still some way off being able to govern unless the other parties support it or abstain from voting against it. On that front, the noises coming from the PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos are not encouraging. But any alliance between these three parties seems fraught, too.

In fact, statisticians have been having a field day trying to work out if any combination of parties at all is likely to work. Could this mean Spaniards will have to face a third general election?

Almost all party leaders have said that's the last thing they want to put the country through. So it looks as though some agreement to allow the PP to govern in minority might ultimately take place.

And that's where things get sticky for the wind industry. It is no exaggeration to say that the PP’s latest spell in administration, from 2011 to 2015, was the worst thing that’s ever happened to Spain’s renewable energy industry.

Among austerity measures aimed at pulling Spain out of recession and eliminating a massive tariff deficit, the PP axed feed-in tariffs for wind power and replaced them with a formula that made new projects practically unviable.

The upshot was that developers didn’t install a single megawatt of capacity last year, leading the Spanish wind industry association to name 2015 “the darkest in the history of wind energy in Spain”.

The savageness of the PP’s cuts has led many to believe there is more going on here than a simple desire to correct the economy.

Many ex-ministers from the party, including the EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete, have links with utilities and petrochemical firms threatened by the rise of wind and solar in Spain.

That’s why most renewable energy interests were hoping for the PP to lose out to one of its rivals last December, since all the other major parties have pledged to repeal the PP’s energy law. Such an option now seems unlikely. Instead, the outcome of the latest electoral round seemingly makes it more difficult for a coalition of political forces to wrest control from the PP.

And even if the PP ends up leading a minority government, it is unclear whether opposition parties will have the ‘cojones’, as they say in Spanish, to force it to back down on energy policy.

Something unique happened in Spanish politics last December: there was a general election and nobody won.

For the first time since the country regained its democracy, in 1978, the alternation of power between Spain’s two main parties was interrupted by the arrival of two significant newcomers.

The conservative People's Party (Partido Popular or PP) and the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español or PSOE) lost votes to two upstart parties feeding off citizen discontent.

Left-wing Podemos (‘We Can’) and liberal Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’) promised to offer a newer, cleaner form of government to an electorate tired of the PP and the PSOE’s long histories of corruption and cronyism. It wasn’t to be, though.

With no clear winner in the elections, the parties grudgingly set about creating alliances to earn a parliamentary majority — and failed. After six months, Spain went back to the polls for a second attempt to select an administration.

The results of the election last month were largely overshadowed by Britain’s decision to abandon the European Union, just three days earlier. Never mind. Little has changed.

The PP, which had been in power up until last December and has been acting as a caretaker government since, emerged ahead of the pack with better result than it had achieved six months ago.

But with just 137 seats in a 350-seat parliament, it is still some way off being able to govern unless the other parties support it or abstain from voting against it. On that front, the noises coming from the PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos are not encouraging. But any alliance between these three parties seems fraught, too.

In fact, statisticians have been having a field day trying to work out if any combination of parties at all is likely to work. Could this mean Spaniards will have to face a third general election?

Almost all party leaders have said that's the last thing they want to put the country through. So it looks as though some agreement to allow the PP to govern in minority might ultimately take place.

And that's where things get sticky for the wind industry. It is no exaggeration to say that the PP’s latest spell in administration, from 2011 to 2015, was the worst thing that’s ever happened to Spain’s renewable energy industry.

Among austerity measures aimed at pulling Spain out of recession and eliminating a massive tariff deficit, the PP axed feed-in tariffs for wind power and replaced them with a formula that made new projects practically unviable.

The upshot was that developers didn’t install a single megawatt of capacity last year, leading the Spanish wind industry association to name 2015 “the darkest in the history of wind energy in Spain”.

The savageness of the PP’s cuts has led many to believe there is more going on here than a simple desire to correct the economy.

Many ex-ministers from the party, including the EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete, have links with utilities and petrochemical firms threatened by the rise of wind and solar in Spain.

That’s why most renewable energy interests were hoping for the PP to lose out to one of its rivals last December, since all the other major parties have pledged to repeal the PP’s energy law. Such an option now seems unlikely. Instead, the outcome of the latest electoral round seemingly makes it more difficult for a coalition of political forces to wrest control from the PP.

And even if the PP ends up leading a minority government, it is unclear whether opposition parties will have the ‘cojones’, as they say in Spanish, to force it to back down on energy policy.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.