Spanish power demand in March fell by 4.6% on a year ago to 20.9 TWh, as tightening coronavirus restrictions wiped out much of the country’s industrial demand, grid operator Red Electrica said in a statement.

The contribution of solar thermal power plants to this lower demand has been diminished by the few hours of sunlight that were available in March.

Adjusted for seasonal differences, demand slumped by 6.3% on a year ago. Spain’s CSP fleet represented 1.2% of power generation, compared with 2.4% in March 2019, Red Electrica said.

On March 28, Spain further tightened COVID-19 restrictions, prohibiting all «non-essential» outside work, including construction, for two weeks. On April 13, the government allowed manufacturing and construction workers to return to work. Some experts predict European countries will require lockdowns of varying severity for months.

Across Europe, lower power demand has reduced wholesale prices and increased the total share of generation from renewable energy sources.

Some 5% of Spain’s generation came from PV plants in March, up from 3.9% in 2019, while 26.8% came from wind, up from 24.2% a year ago, Red Electrica said. Wind levels were strong and average wholesale power prices fell to 27.7 euros/MWh ($30.3/MWh), data from market operator OMIE showed.

    Historic power prices in Iberia (Spain, Portugal)

Source: European Commission’s Quarterly Electricity Market Report

In Spain, new tariff legislation, proven plant performance and a growing need for storage is increasing investor confidence in CSP plant ownership, investors told New Energy Update in February.

Spain has 2.3 GW of installed CSP capacity and output rose by 16.8% in 2019, to 5.2 GWh, CSP industry group Protermo Solar said.

CSP output was 3.8% higher than the average for the last five years and signals improving operations and maintenance (O&M) efficiency for Spain’s CSP fleet, Protermosolar said.