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More than 17,000 households, businesses and public buildings now have solar panels installed in Malaga. SUR
Malaga already produces enough renewable energy to power 500,000 households
Renewable energy

Malaga already produces enough renewable energy to power 500,000 households

A report by the Andalusian Energy Agency recorded a 45% increase in the last decade, although only solar energy has experienced a big rise

Chus Heredia

Malaga

Friday, 27 October 2023, 15:03

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Malaga province is improving, but has yet to fully exploit its potential to generate electricity from renewable sources. Although it is true that in a decade it has practically increased its production of renewables by half, it is no less true that the only field in which there has been constant and significant growth is solar energy. In total, the province's renewable energy capacity amounts to 1,125.8 MW, equivalent to the annual consumption of 504,180 households. In 2014, it was 773. The 45% increase is notable but in this time, only solar has experienced notable increases. Wind power has stagnated for the moment.

These are the findings from the report on energy infrastructure in the province of Malaga, produced by the Andalusian Energy Agency and updated this summer. They show how Malaga only produces a tenth of Andalusian renewable energy and how biogas, biomass and hydroelectric power have not increased in the last decade.

Another key factor of renewable energies is that they have a special strategic value, especially in the geopolitical context resulting from the supply crisis and the armed conflicts in Ukraine and recently between Israel and Palestine. It is more important than ever to reduce dependence on third parties. And Malaga holds great potential for growth.

Biomass

Olive-based products as the main fuel

The province of Malaga has two biomass energy generators, with a capacity of 17.2 MW, which represents just 6.3% of the total in Andalucía. These plants use products from the olive grove (olive pomace left after pressing of the fruit, leaves and olive prunings) as their main fuel source. The two facilities are Biomasa Fuente de Piedra and Extragol, in Villanueva de Algaidas, both with similar power.

Biogas

Interest spikes in a system that could cover all of Andalucía's domestic consumption

Experts from the Andalusian Energy Agency, Nedgia, Kepler and AGR Biogás agreed at a recent event organised by SUR on renewable gas that it is a field that has the potential to guarantee the entire domestic supply to the region. They said that progress needs to be made in streamlining red tape; that interest in investment has shot up, and that this is a key energy source for the move away from fossil fuels. They also agreed that biogas generates jobs, and that it can even help to increase rural populations.

The idea is to produce biogas (methane and CO2), which once 'clean', is converted into methane and could be injected directly into the mains gas network, which already reaches 22 municipalities in the province, covering a population of 1.5 million inhabitants.

AGR Biogás was a pioneering company, operating since 2016 in Campillos at the first biogas facility producing from manure in Andalucía. This is another of its functions, a better management of waste from livestock farming.

Good fertilisers (compost) and biogas are obtained from food waste, sewage, vegetable and livestock waste.

How many biogas plants are there in Malaga? Four at the moment and all of them produce electricity and none of them, therefore, inject gas into the grid, which is the experts' hope for the future. In addition to AGR, Malaga has a biogas plant at the landfill sites of Los Ruices in the city (3.16 MW) and Valsequillo, Antequera, (2.55). This fuel is also produced at the Guadalhorce wastewater treatment plant (1.44), although it is for self-consumption.

Among the upcoming plans are the six million euros that the water company of the Western Costa del Sol, Acosol, intends to invest in its treatment plants (Cerro del Águila, in Mijas-Fuengirola; Arroyo de la Miel, in Benalmádena; Arroyo de la Víbora, in Marbella, and Guadalmansa, in Estepona), with more than one million euros coming from European funding. The main objective is self-supply.

Wind

Malaga accounts for almost 18% of Andalucía's wind energy with large plants in Almargen, Ardales, Campillos, Cañete, Teba and Casares

The province has 26 active wind farms. They were developed more than a decade ago and have hardly increased in recent years. They add up to 643 MW, which represents 18% of the Andalusian share and makes Malaga the second largest producer in this field.

Malaga was home to the first experimental wind farm set up in Andalucía, La Cámara (Ardales), with 18 MW. The most powerful, Altamira, is in Almargen (49.30). There are wind farms connected to the electricity grid in Almargen (3 facilities); Álora (2); Ardales (3); Campillos (6); Cañete La Real (3); Casares (3); Sierra de Yeguas (2); Teba (3), and Villanueva de Algaidas (1).

Hydroelectric

Malaga produces 20% of hydroelectric power but remains stable over time

The power of water is harnessed in 11 hydroelectric power stations, generating 126.7 MW, which is one fifth of Andalucía's production. The mountainous characteristics of the province help this process. By far the most powerful (76 MW) is Iznájar, in the municipality of Cuevas de San Marcos. The rest are Nuevo Chorro and Paredores (both in Álora); Gobantes (Ardales); Guadalhorce-Guadalteba (Campillos); Buitreras (Cortes de la Frontera); Corchado, Hidroeléctrica del Guadiaro (Gaucín); Chíllar (Nerja); Ronda; San Augusto (Tolox), and San Pascual (Yunquera).

Solar

Power connections have grown more than sixfold in the last decade

In 2014, Malaga had 52.8 MW of solar power connected to the grid. Currently, the figure has increased sixfold and is growing steadily, reaching 331.5 MW. However, this is very little in relation to the total for Andalucía, at barely 6.3%.

The number of consumers who generate their own energy to feed it into the grid and reduce their bills is striking. In total, there are 17,700 solar energy sites, generating just over 119 MW. This exponential growth can be attributed to the boom in the sector and public policy support in the form of subsidies.

The four most powerful solar plants are La Vega I and II in Teba, which produce 43.24 MW each, and Archidona I and II, which generate 17.82 MW and 33.11 MW respectively.

Thermal

Solar energy, biomass or geothermal energy for hot water, heating, boilers...

This section, no longer focusing on contributions to the electricity grid, but still noteworthy in terms of consumption, includes solar thermal energy. Malaga has 228,280 square metres of solar panels, one fifth of the total in Andalucía, which is the nation's leader in this field.

There are also good signs for Malaga in the field of biomass, with strong growth in recent years in the residential and services sectors. However, the province only consumes 8% of the region's biomass for thermal use. It has 2,439 plants, 2,304 of them for residential use, although the largest capacity is for industry (99 MW). Finally, geothermal energy, used for air-conditioning and domestic hot water, accounts for only 378 kW.

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