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Brief description:



Spain ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, submitting its fourth national communication as an Annex 1 country in 2006 and its most recent National Inventory Report in September 2010.

According to data within the 2010 report, Spain emitted a total of 405.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent during 2008, with the energy sector – including fuel mining and transport – creating the lion’s share at 78.5% of emissions. This represents a 4% increase since 1990. Agriculture accounted for 9.6% of emissions in 2008, and industrial processes emitted 7.7%. This had dropped from 9.2% in 1990. The country has seen a sustained period of growth since 1990, reflected in a 39.8% rise in emissions on 1990 levels.

Government challenges

Strong economic growth in recent years means that Spain’s CO2 emissions are much higher than its Kyoto Protocol target. The country is also bound to European Union targets on cutting GHG emissions, developing renewable energy and promoting energy efficiency as well as absorbing the EU’s CCS directive into its national laws (see below).

It has to cut emissions from sectors out with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme by 10% below their 2005 levels, and increase the share of renewable sources in its energy mix to 20% by 2020. Spain and other EU member states also have a separate binding target for renewable energy to cover 10% of transport fuel demand in 2020. By promoting energy efficiency, it also has to help reduce energy demand in the EU by 20% by 2020.

The IEA has urged Spain to diversify its energy mix, as fossil fuels continue to supply 60% of electricity. It will need to pull out all the stops to move towards a low-carbon economy, including an increase in spending on energy research and development, if it is to help meet the EU’s ambitious targets for tackling climate change.

Climate change impact

The IPCC’s fourth assessment report stated that the Iberian peninsula, of which Spain is a part, could be one of the regions most affected by heatwaves and drought. It also noted a recent shift in animal and plant species to higher elevations, evidence that climate change is already having an impact. There are obvious implications for food production and security and water resources.

CCS regulatory framework

Spain is part of the European Union (EU), which adopted a carbon capture and storage directive (EU 2009/31/CE) in April 2009 that requires member states to introduce necessary laws and regulations in order to comply with it by 25 June 2011. This led from Article 4 of the Kyoto Protocol, which obliges member states to meet a joint reduction commitment. In the six months before May 2011, Spain transposed the EU CCS Directive into its legal system. The 40/2010 Act of 29 December sets the regulatory framework regarding the storage of CO2 and offers some general principles concerning capture and transportation. Rather than changing existing laws, it offers new regulation across the lifespan of CO2 storage plants. The CCS directive is part of a climate change package that recognises the need for developed nations to reduce GHG emissions by 30% by 2020, and between 60% and 80% by 2050.

In May 2011, Spain contributed to the IEA's bi-annual CCS legal review. Read their submission by dowloading the review here.

When the CCS directive was rubber-stamped, Spain’s ministries of Industry, Tourism and Trade and the Environment worked together to produced draft legislation to be approved by the public and private sector. The necessary laws and regulations to meet the CCS directive – contained within a draft bill – were approved in April 2010. The government has stipulated that any CCS projects must be environmentally safe, economically sound and will contribute to a pool of knowledge and expertise.

There have been no further legal or regulatory developments over 12 months prior to July 2012.

CCS Initiatives

CCS is still in its early stages in Spain. CIUDEN is the Spanish Government's principal instrument for developing CO2 capture, transport and storage (CCS) technologies, through the construction and operation of the Technology Development Centre for CO2 Capture located in León, in north west Spain with an investment of €128.4 million. Research and development at the centre reached an important milestone on 6 May 2011. The plant will test injection and monitoring techniques for supercritical CO2 (at 1500m depth in Lower Jurassic carbonate formations) in the underground structure at Hontomín - considered one of the best options for geological storage in the country. Read more here. 

There are only two identified projects to date in Spain. Compostilla, in El Bierzo, has won European Commission funding to demonstrate the full CCS chain on a new pilot 30-MW coal plant. The pilot will then be upscaled to 320MW by 2015. The capture plant is currently under construction. ELCOGAS' capture pilot at the Puertollano IGCC plant is already capturing CO2 from 14MW of generation, with plans to eventually extend CCS to the full 335MW capacity. Spain is also part of the European DECARBit project to fast-track the development of pre-combustion carbon capture technologies for fossil fuel power plants. (see project links below).

Spain’s Ministry of Science and Innovation and the regional government of Castile-La Mancha has set up the Advanced Technology for CO2 Conversion, Capture and Storage initiative, which has provided funding towards the Puertollano IGCC pilot, Cuiden’s analysis of CO2 capture using oxy-combustion technology, study and regulation of CO2 geological storage in Spain by IGME (Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration), and a CCS public awareness campaign coordinated by CIEMAT. More details on ELCOGAS website here.

Other progress

Since 2005, Spain has moved its energy policy forward to comply with IEA requirements but also to embrace renewable energy and improve energy efficiency. In a 2009 report (see link below), the IEA praised Spain for the development of its natural gas market in particular, and its investment in LNG. It also welcomed the country’s promotion of wind power – at the time, Spain had the third highest global generating capacity and was expected to develop this further.

The government has also set a target of one million hybrid and electric cars by 2014, and has steadily increased spending on energy R&D. In road transport, tax incentives are being used to promote biofuels and low-CO2-emitting cars. There are also plans to expand the high-speed rail network.


A preliminary study of Spain's CO2 storage capacity was carried out from 2006 to 2007 by the Spanish Geological Survey (IGME) and national research centre CIEMAT. This identified saline aquifer structures within Tertiary sedimentary basins of the Iberian Peninsula as having greatest potential and capacity. A second, more detailed study has since been carried out by IGME, which investigated 103 structures, mostly in the Cantabrian mountains and the Duero basin, the Iberian mountains and Tajo and Almazan basins, the Pyrenees and Ebro basin and the Baetic mountains and Guadalquivir basin. Of these, 55 have capacities higher than 50 million tonnes, with a combined capacity of around 12 gigatonnes. Offshore capacity was not included in either study.

Other information

Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs

Secretary of State for Climate Change

IEA’s Spain energy review for OECD, 2009. Executive summary

Guardian report on 90% loss of Spain’s glaciers

Impacts of climate change on Spain’s Doñana National Park, WWF, 2006