LITTLETON, Colorado - Spain's electricity system hit a new clean milestone in 2023 as electricity generated from wind exceeded electricity output from fossil fuel sources for the first time.

Wind power generated 61.09 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2023, according to energy think tank Ember, exceeding the 61.04 TWh generated from all fossil fuel sources in Spain last year.

Wind's cumulative generation tally was Spain's highest from all sources in 2023, surpassing totals generated from natural gas (54.4 TWh), nuclear (54.4) and hydro dams (24.25 TWh).

Along with solar output (40.4 TWh), Spain's hefty wind-powered total pushed the share of clean fuels in the country's electricity generation mix to 75.1 % for 2023, a new record and sharply up from the 66% share recorded in 2022.


Spain's wind generation total in 2023 was 25% more than was generated in 2018, and comes on the back of a 27% expansion in wind generation capacity between 2017 and 2022 to 29.3 gigawatts (GW), Ember data shows.

That growth in capacity was exceeded only by that of solar power over that period, which grew by 192% to 20.52 GW.

Spain's drive to clean its power system was further aided by a 72% reduction in coal-fired generation capacity from 2017 to 2022.

Additional renewable generation capacity is under development, with 5.6 GW of wind and 14.4 GW of solar capacity announced or under construction through 2027, according to Global Energy Monitor (GEM).

With roughly 2.4 GW of new hydro power capacity also in pre-construction, and no natural gas power plants planned for development, Spain's electricity generation system will become even cleaner in terms of power sources by the end of the decade.



The ramp up in Spain's clean electricity generation in recent years has resulted in a sharp decline in Spain's power sector pollution.

Total national emissions from power generation have dropped by 45% between 2018 and 2023 to 38.75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and equivalent gases, Ember data shows.

As a result, Spain's power system has established itself as one of the cleanest in all of Europe, coming in second only to France in terms of the share of electricity generated from clean sources.

In January 2024, France's clean power generation share was 92.36% while Spain's clean share was 78.3%, Ember data shows.

In comparison, the average for all of Europe was 59% in January, 54% in Germany, and 43% in Italy, so Spain has already established a formidable lead over several other major regional economies in terms of energy transition momentum.

And with further rapid growth expected in the build out of more wind and solar power generation facilities, Spain's pace of clean power progress has the potential to accelerate further in the years ahead.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.

(Reporting by Gavin Maguire; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)