Spain Slashes Subsidies for Renewables

With Spain in the midst of an economic meltdown, the Spanish government has cut off aid to the domestic renewable energy industry — once the most heavily subsidized in Europe. Faced with an empty trough, Spanish clean energy companies are responding by seeking out projects abroad. 

As Todd Woody mentions at Forbes, the Spanish renewable energy giant Abengoa is making 90% of its capital expenditures outside of Spain while 53% of its revenues in the first quarter of 2012 came from outside of Europe. The company is currently building two large solar thermal plants in the United States.

In a country burdened by a budget deficit more than twice the European Union limit, Spain axed subsidies for new renewable energy projects in January. The move by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy shook the European clean energy industry.

“They destroyed the Spanish market overnight with the moratorium,” European Wind Energy Association CEO Christian Kjaer told Bloomberg. “The wider implication of this is that if Spanish politicians can do that, probably most European politicians can do that.”

Either way, Spain is on track to meet its European Union target of getting 20 percent of all its energy from renewables by 2020. The country generated 23 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2010.

(via Bloomberg)

Photo: Abengoa’s PS 10, the world’s first commercial solar tower, outside of Seville, Spain. (afloresm / Flickr Creative Commons)

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