Mar. 9, 2020

José Miguel Villarig


José Miguel Villarig

President, Association of Renewable Energy Companies (APPA Renovables)

With renewable installations costing merely 10% of what they cost in 2007, Spain's time in the sun is now for wind and solar.


José Miguel Villarig has been president of APPA Renovables since 2012 and CEO of Molinos del Ebro. He developed his professional career at the Samca Group, where he worked in various sectors, holding positions of increasing responsibility. Since its incorporation in 1995, he has been the CEO of Molinos del Ebro, a Samca Group company dedicated to the development of wind projects. On behalf of APPA Renovables, he is also a member of the Committee of OMIE Market Agents, the Electricity Advisory Council of the CNMC, and the board of directors of the Spanish Energy Club.

What were the motivations behind the founding of association?
The birth of APPA Renovables was based on the union that existed between different mini-hydraulic producers in the area of Catalonia. Renewable energies were set to develop because Spain had an opportunity in that field, considering its energy dependency and existing resources. The growth has been gradual, and since the country is rich in renewable resources and previously had a great dependence on fossil fuels, it was considered opportune to bet on renewable energies. We know that fossil resources are exhaustible, unlike natural recourses. Spain is a country with a high dependency on fossil fuels: Europe has a dependency of 50%, while Spain is at 75%. This is an opportunity to develop policies that stop the exit of hard currency due to this dependency.

Will the transition to renewable energies dissipate that dependence and create a more stable energy market?
Of course, it is an opportunity. The issue is that energy dependence leads to the outflow of foreign currency in a country that mostly earns revenues from tourism. Resources can be provided to avoid this outflow and consequently the exit of jobs. If we start from our strengths in energy resources and technology, the possibility of development is great.

What kind of companies are associated with APPA, and what advantages does it offer?
Wind energy is the source that has generated most development When the first wind energy promoters started installing parks in 1998, the quotas, deadlines, and prices were rational. We did not make the mistake of doing everything in one year: from 1998 to 2018, Spain has developed 23,000MW of power. At present, wind energy accounts for 20-40% of electricity supply of renewable energy. Years later, photovoltaic energy entered the market. There was a hasty development of photovoltaic because quotas, prices, and developments were not adequate, and those mistakes turned out to be expensive. We have 4,000MW of solar PV but with inadequate prices. If we talk about installed power, installing 1MW of electricity cost EUR6 million in 2007, whereas today it costs EUR600,000. Biomass is another technology that has worked. In addition to biomass companies, there are marine wind and geothermal companies within APPA.

How can you help developed and developing companies?
Within the association, multinational and small companies coexist, so we have expertise in all the different development grades of the companies. Also, as the different technologies have evolved, specific associations of the different technologies have been born, and we work closely with all of them. As partners, APPA has multinationals or mid-level developers with 300MW of installed capacity, as well as small individual promoters who may have a specific wind or hydraulic installation. It is clear that some technologies, such as wind and photovoltaic, have greater competitiveness, but there are others that still need support because they are in the growth stage. They may need an appreciation of the kW price or an analysis of their contributions. Biomass is a technology that creates a lot of employment for its management, in addition to helping clean forests. We won't be doing it justice by focusing on the price of 1kW alone, rather than considering all other factors. Then, there is CSP, which is currently experiencing lower costs and providing support to storage facilities. The complementarity between renewable energies demands that they not be seen in isolation in terms of price or competitiveness.