Wind spins more power in Spain while weaker elsewhere

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Wind turbines are seen at dusk in a field in Tebar, Spain, April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

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MADRID, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Wind power generation in Spain is projected to rise 10% this year, the national grid operator said on Thursday, whilst lower wind speeds have weighed on renewable generation in its northern neighbours.

Making electricity from lofty turbines planted on hillsides or off blustery coastlines is key to global plans to shift away from fossil fuels that emit planet-warming carbon.

Wind is set to account for 23.3% of overall Spanish power production in 2021, grid firm Red Electrica de Espana (REE) calculated, just over one percentage point more than the previous year, overtaking nuclear which will provide 20.6%.

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By contrast, wind farm operators in northern and central Europe have complained of lighter winds this year.

Germany's RWE (RWEG.DE) blamed the lower volumes for a 22% decline in first-half core profits and Denmark's Orsted (ORSTED.CO) said last month the conditions had cost it 1.7 billion Danish crowns ($259 million) compared to a normal year. read more

In the European Union as a whole, 14.3% of power generation has been driven by wind so far this year, according to Germany's Fraunhofer research institute. Denmark and Germany have seen wind's contribution to their power systems fall almost five and 10 percentage points respectively, the institute says.

Soaring natural gas prices worldwide have given extra impetus to the transition away from carbon-heavy power sources, but have also encouraged some utilities to switch back to even more polluting coal, which had been priced out of the mix in some places by levies on the carbon it emits while burning.

Gas remains key to powering Spain, with combined cycle plants set to make 17.6% of this year's total and cogeneration - a type of technology that sometimes employs gas - another 10%.

($1 = 6.5735 Danish crowns)

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Reporting by Isla Binnie; additional reporting by Nora Bulli in Oslo;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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