Non renewable electricity generation

Information based on provisional data as of January 2023
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National non-renewable generation increased in 2022.

Non-renewable production in the Spanish electricity system in 2022 increased by 15.3 % compared to the previous year, standing at 159,732 GWh. This accounted for 57.8 % of the national generation structure, compared to the 53.8 % recorded in 2021.

Non-renewable energy in the peninsular system registered a total generation of 147,500 GWh in 2022, 15.8 % higher than in 2021. This increase in non-renewable generation resulted in an increase of 4.7 percentage points in its contribution to total peninsular generation, reaching a share of 56.3 % in 2022, compared to 51.6 % in 2021. This increase in non-renewable generation is mainly due to the higher production of nuclear and combined cycle power stations, which generated 55.6 % and 61.1 % more than in 2021, respectively.

In the Balearic Islands, non-renewable generation increased by 16.4 % in 2022 due to the increased production of coal and gas turbine stations, which were 76.3 % and 76.5 % higher than in 2021, respectively. Combined cycle power stations have reached an annual generation maximum of 3,985,680 MWh, 14.5 % higher than the production of the previous year.

In the Canary Islands, generation from fossil fuel power plants increased by 5.6 %, due to a 31.1 % increase in production from gas turbines and a 9.0 % increase in production from steam turbines. Combined cycle stations generated 4.7 % more than in 2021 and recorded the highest production in the entire historical series kept since 2006, with 3,590,011 MWh.

Annual evolution of non-renewable energy production

Non-renewable production structure by power station type and by autonomous communities

The net production of non-renewable Hydro Management Unit (HMU) facilities is net of their own consumption. In these types of production, negative generation indicates that the electricity consumed for the power station’s uses exceeds its gross production.
Pumped storage: Pure pumped storage + estimate of mixed pumped storage.

Utilisation rate of peninsular thermal power stations

Utilisation rate of thermal power stations: The utilisation rate is the quotient between actual production and the available production, or maximum production, that the power station could achieve by operating at its rated power during the entire time it is available.

Coal-fired power stations increased their production in 2022

In the Spanish electricity system, the production of coal-fired power stations in 2022 increased by 55.8 % compared to the previous year, breaking the downward trend of the last four years. However, this technology maintains a reduced presence in the mix, with a share amounting to only 2.8 % of all national generation.

Peninsular coal-fired power stations generated 7,687 GWh in 2022, which is 55.6 % more than the previous year. During the first quarter of 2022, coal-fired production rose by 103.0 % compared to the same period the previous year, with the highest monthly growth of 221.8 % occurring in February. In contrast, during the fourth quarter of the year, coal-fired power stations reduced their output by 23.4 %, then further decreased by 44.2 % in November, reaching the lowest value for this month since records have been kept.

The decarbonisation targets set by the European Union to reduce CO2 emissions have led coal production, which is more polluting than other technologies, to remain a small part of the energy mix, accounting for 2.9 % of total generation in 2022.

The utilisation rate for coal on the Spanish mainland in 2022 was 69.8 %, up from 40.9 % the previous year.

In the Balearic Islands, the closure of sets 1 and 2 of the Alcudia plant and the limitation of the operating hours of sets 3 and 4 meant that in 2022, coal-fired generation only took place in the months of June, July, and August.

In 2022, the combined cycle was the leading technology in the generation structure

In line with total non-renewable generation, in 2022, combined cycle production in the Spanish electricity system increased by 53.1 % compared to the previous year. Moreover, it has been the leading technology in the national generation mix with a share of 24.7 %, a situation that last occurred in 2010.

In 2022, the production of peninsular combined cycle plants was 61.1 % higher than in 2021, with the greatest growth recorded during the first and third quarters of the year. In the month of February, combined cycle power stations recorded the highest monthly production increase, of 276.1 %, and they reached their annual generation maximum in July. In addition, on Thursday, July 14, 2022, combined cycle power stations beat the historical record for daily generation with a value of 369,113 MWh.

The higher annual production of the peninsular combined cycle stations has resulted in a 7.9-point increase in their representation in the energy mix, reaching a share of 23.1 % in the peninsular structure in 2022 (15.2 % in 2021). Due to this increased share, combined-cycle power stations have been the main source of generation in the peninsular mix for the first time in twelve years.

The utilisation rate of peninsular combined cycle production in 2022 was 34.1 % (21.2 % in 2021).

In 2022, the combined cycle stations of the Balearic Islands electricity system generated 3,985,680 MWh, 14.5 % more than in 2021, registering the highest level of production since 2007. For the third consecutive year, this technology has represented the leading source of generation in the Balearic Islands mix, with a share of 73.3 % in the production structure. In August 2022, combined cycle production registered a new all-time monthly record of 456,377 MWh, and on Wednesday, August 17, the maximum daily production reached an all-time high of 16,145 MWh.

In the Canary Islands electricity system, combined cycle power stations produced 4.7 % more in 2022 than in 2021, reaching an all-time record of 3,590,011 MWh. Furthermore, combined cycle stations were once again, and for the twelfth consecutive year, the leading technology in the Canary Islands generation mix, with a share of 42.1 %. In January 2022, the combined cycle plants reached the highest production value ever recorded to date, with 350,332 MWh.

Among non-renewable energy technologies, nuclear generated a total of 54,041 GWh in 2021, 3.1 % less than the previous year. This drop occurred mainly during the first and last quarters of 2021, when nuclear production fell by 6.2 % and 15.3 %, respectively. In February, nuclear generation decreased by 10.8 % due to the operational unavailability of the Trillo power station, and in March the decrease was 6.6 %, coinciding with the unavailability of the Almaraz II power station, which began work on its 26th refuelling. The sharpest decreases in nuclear production occurred in November (23.2 %) and December (25.6 %) due to the refuelling stoppages at the Ascó 1, Cofrentes, and Almaraz I power stations.

As a result of these lower production levels, nuclear power stations have become the second largest source of generation on the Spanish peninsula for the first time after ten consecutive years of being the leading source in the peninsular mix (in 2013, they shared the lead with wind power). In 2021, nuclear reached an overall share of 21.9 % in peninsular generation (23.3 % in 2020).

The utilisation rate (the ratio between actual production and the production that could have been achieved if the power stations had operated at their rated power for the entire time they were available) was 97.7 %.

In 2022, there was an increase in CO2 equivalent emissions from electricity generation.

During 2022, there has been an increase in CO2 equivalent emissions associated with national electricity generation, reaching 44.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, 23.8 % more than in 2021, and 60.0 % below the emissions recorded in 2007.

This increase in emissions is explained primarily by the increase in production of coal-fired and combined-cycle stations that took place in the national electricity system during the 2022 period, which meant that the CO2 equivalent emissions associated with these technologies were 53.9 % and 50.6 % higher, respectively, than in 2021.

CO2 Emissions and CO2 equivalent emission factors associated with electricity generation

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