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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spain No Longer Battling the Windmills


Comparing Spain’s current market grasp on wind energy with the quintessential Spanish literary symbol -- Don Quixote battling the windmill in La Mancha – offers a certain irony. If Don Quixote is the representation par excellence of Spanish culture, today he would no longer be battling windmills, but rather trying to figure out how to manufacture them most efficiently and then exporting his business model all over the world.
Were this newly imagined persona to drive around in his car and explore the expansion of Spanish multinationals that specialize in wind energy, he would find one company’s logo etched on some of the most sophisticated turbines on every continent. Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica’s rapid and ambitious expansion story has been anything but a quixotic dream. The Zamudio-based multinational has risen to international prominence thanks, in large part, to certain strategic initiatives.
Spainbecame a global hub for wind energy innovation due primarily to government subsidies and the use of feed-in tariffs (FITs). According to Cynthia Graber, a journalist who has covered Spanish renewable energy, the growth of wind energy in Spain arose out of local needs to reduce dependence on foreign oil and to lower carbon dioxide emissions. As a result of the oil crises of the 1970s and 1980s, Spain passed a series of laws, beginning with Royal Decree 82/1980, mandating the development of local energy sources. In 1994, Spain joined many other European countries in instituting the use of FITs as a mechanism to advance renewable energy development.

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