Goodbye to As Pontes. The iconic Galician power plant, inaugurated in 1976, almost parallel to the arrival of democracy in Spain, is definitively left off the Spanish electrical map. With the arrival of the new year, Red Eléctrica de España (REE) has decommissioned this Endesa facility forever, leaving the weight of coal—by far the most polluting fossil fuel—below 2% of the installed capacity for the first time. time since there are records. It was the fifteenth most polluting plant in Europe, according to the latest classification by the environmental organization Beyond Fossil Fuels. A list that is led, by far, by Germany and Poland.
The final sentence of As Pontes (A Coruña) comes from a long time ago and only a black swan – the largest energy crisis in the history of Europe – forced its definitive closure to be delayed for a few months. It stopped burning coal in the summer of 2021, while its owner (Endesa) was processing the request to close it, but the increase in demand with the arrival of the cold and the growing doubts about the supply of natural gas in the Old Continent forced it to do so. again stocked up on fuel and reactivated it temporarily that November.
A few months later, in September 2022, and with the chips on the energy board somewhat more stable, the Government – with the approval of REE, the system manager – authorized its gradual closure. Thus, it began with the closure of two of the four generating groups, leaving the other two conditional on “the availability of power.” The Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge authorized the end of the remaining two in August of last year.
After receiving the approval of the Executive, Endesa announced an investment to develop one gigawatt of wind power in the area, taking advantage of the existing network network. Most of these new projects, he emphasized, are “linked to strategic industrial initiatives for the future of the community, such as the reopening of the Alcoa plant in Lugo.”
The area, however, does not have it all, far from it. After several years of mobilizations, on November 23 the Galician Inter-Union Confederation called a general strike in the town where the plant is located (As Pontes de García Rodríguez) with the support of the municipal plenary session.
REE’s first power update of the year and first big news:
REE has already decommissioned the As Pontes coal plant, in Galicia.
The registered coal goes from 3464.4MW to 2061.2MW.
4 years ago it was 9456MW
— Xavier Cugat – Energy (@revenergetica) January 1, 2024
After the closure of the Coruña plant, there are only five coal plants left in Spain, all of them much smaller in size: Aboño and Soto de Ribera (both in Asturias and owned by EDP), La Pereda (also in Asturias, owned by Hunosa) , Los Barrios (in Cádiz, operated by Viesgo) and Es Murterar (Mallorca, owned by Endesa).
The first three have a clear calendar to stop using coal: La Pereda will switch to biomass this year; Aboño, powered by natural gas in 2025, the year in which Soto de Ribera should also pass away. In the case of the Cádiz plant, although its closure had been authorized since the beginning of 2021, the energy crisis also led to its temporary call-up to contribute to security of supply. Finally, Es Murterar will cease to provide service with the entry into operation of the second phase of the electrical interconnection between the Peninsula and the archipelago, scheduled for within a couple of years.
2024 begins, therefore, with just over two gigawatts (GW) of active coal in Spain, just 1.7% of the total installed power. They are 1.4 less than at the end of December 2023 and, attention, the fifth of five years ago. The maximum occurred in the early 2000s, when Spain had more than 11 GW of coal generation. Their initial replacement were gas plants (the so-called combined cycles), while in recent years the take-off of wind power and, more recently, of solar photovoltaics have given the blow to the technology that, together with hydraulics, dominated the peninsular electrical matrix for decades.
The change is even greater if we look at actual generation and not installed capacity. Last year, only 1.5% of the electricity consumed in Spain came from burning coal. In 2013 it was almost 15% and in 2007, 25%.
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