Lowest levels of CO2 equivalent emissions in March
Decarbonisation is on its way

Greenhouse gases emissions associated with electricity generation in March registered its lowest value since 2007, driven mainly by weather conditions that have favoured the incorporation of increased renewable energy into the generation mix and by the side-effects derived from the coronavirus outbreak.

Spain closed the month of March registering the lowest figure regarding CO2 equivalent emissions associated with electricity generation. Wind power was the leading source of electricity generation, contributing 26.6%, followed by nuclear (24.6%) and hydro (14.8%). Three clean technologies at the forefront of Spain’s overall electricity generation structure.

Despite the drop in electricity demand in Spain in March as a result of COVID-19, 7,726 GWh of renewable energy were generated in the month, the third highest figure recorded in a month of March and represented 49.4% of the overall generation.

Therefore, with only 2,395,406 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, Spain set a new historical record that has contributed to boosting the energy transition. Also noteworthy is that March has been a month in which minimum overall emission levels were also registered on the Spanish Peninsula, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

And the relevant fact is that for every MWh of electricity generated in Spain in March, 0.11 tonnes of CO2 equivalent were emitted, the lowest average emission rate since records began at Red Eléctrica.

A week to be recorded in Spain’s history

The weather conditions of the first week of March were the appetiser for what would later be a good month for the energy transition: during the first week of March, wind contributed between 29% and 51% of Spain’s total daily electricity production and, as a result, renewable energy reached a total share of 59.5% in the total energy mix. Furthermore, during this seven-day period, zero greenhouse gas emission energy stood at around 80% between Sunday 1 and Saturday 7 March.

Similarly, of note is that March registered figures regarding daily CO2 equivalent emissions associated to the energy mix that exceeded 70% in only 3 of the 31 days of the month.

The 1st of March became the second day on record to register the lowest emissions linked to electricity generation in Spain, with a total of 58,649.998 tonne of CO2 equivalent. The figure reached on that Sunday is below the all-time historical record registered to date, which was registered on 22 December 2019, when a maximum of 52,784.22 tonnes of CO2 equivalent was reached. But..., What happened on that Sunday, 1st March? Wind conditions boosted the capacity of wind turbines to deploy their full potential and contributed to produce a total of 358 GWh of wind energy. This amount meant that this technology was responsible for 50.6% of all electricity generation in Spain on a day when it had increased its generation by almost 300% compared to the same day in 2019.

1 March: just another Sunday?

It was in March of last year that coal-fired generation began to slowdown in anticipation of an announced and gradual reduction of this type of energy generation technology. Prior to 2019, coal-fired production contributed more than 10% of the monthly total in Spain’s energy mix, but as of a year ago, coal-fired generation does not exceed 5% in the national electricity generation mix. In fact, the 475 GWh produced by this technology during the month of March represents 50.9% less than that generated in the same month in 2019. The gap left is now being filled with renewable and combined cycle production, which represent technologies with emission factors that are about half that of coal-fired generation.

A year that has registered minimum values of coal-fired generation