Mainland Spain registers first coal-free day

Spain has registered its first full day without any coal-fired power generation in its peninsular system, as wind output hit a record high, grid operator REE said today.

Mainland Spain went coal free from 23:50 local time on 13 December until 21:20 on 15 December, Preliminary data show — making 14 December the first day of no coal burn since REE records began.

The historic development was achieved only in the peninsular system, as coal-fired output continued in the non-peninsular area of the Balearic islands.

Wind power generation in peninsular Spain reached its highest daily volume on 13 December, at an hourly average of 16.41GW, with strong output continuing into the morning of 14 December.

Coal-fired generation on 14 December was originally forecast at 252MWh in hour 1, 251MWh in hour 2 and 180MWh in hour 3 on the PBF day-ahead basic schedule, but was later dropped to zero for all hours in the final schedule for the day.

Output from coal-fired plants only returned on 21:30 on 15 December, REE data show.

Spain registered periods of very low coal-fired generation last summer, but did not go coal free in any single hour because of technical constraints in the distribution network in the northern region of Asturias.

Portuguese utility EDP's 562MW Abono 2 facility was the only one of 25 coal-fired power units in mainland Spain to operate on several days in the summer. And in many cases it only entered the PBF schedule with small volumes in hours 1-3, because a coal-fired plant usually needs between one and three hours to fully stop. "It is an almost mandatory operation, so offers can be usually made below cost when a unit operated the previous day," EDP said then.

Generation data for individual units are only published 90 days after actual dates. Data from European grid association Entso-E show that there was no planned maintenance or outage recorded for Abono 2 on 14-15 December, and EDP did not immediately reply to queries from Argus on whether Abono 2 was the plant originally scheduled to operate on hours 1-3 on 14 December.

By Juan Weik