June 27 (UPI) -- Spain is the next European country to outline new goals that could make it among the leaders in renewable energy, new analysis from Wood Mackenzie found.
A report emailed to UPI from the consultant group expects a new government under Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will usher in a new phase of energy transition efforts.
"Key amongst the government's plans is a proposal to phase out coal in power generation by 2025," the report read. "This is in contrast to the previous government's policy and indeed coal plant closures are currently blocked if they are deemed to have adverse effects on power prices or competition."
Eurostat, the European Union's record-keeping office, said Spain was near the top of the list when it comes to increases in emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, with a 7.4 percent spike last year.
European countries are obligated to get a certain percentage of their energy met by renewable resources. Eurostat reported that 11 have already met their goals. Spain, in 2016, the last full year for which the agency had data, had renewables account for 17.3 percent of its energy mix, just below its 2020 goal of 20 percent.
The European Commission said it was setting a new bar for renewable energy use with a 32 percent target for 2030, with an additional consideration for further revisions in 2023. The governing body said this step puts more strength behind European President Jean-Claude Juncker's ambition for Europe to become the world leader in renewable energy use.
Juncker has said that it was Europe that set the rules of the game with the ratification of the multilateral Paris climate agreement. A directive from 2009 set a binding target of 20 percent final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.
Wood Mackenzie's report found Spain's coal ambitions could face a backlash from constituents on the coal producing regions of the north. With phase out plans unveiled, the country still has some dependence on coal-fired power capacity.
Following in the footsteps of Germany, Spain could also gradually shut down its nuclear power capacity by the end of the next decade.
The report said Spain is likely to look at a broad mix of new energy, from renewables to bridge fuels like natural gas. The goals, meanwhile, are still in the proposal stage and could face backlash from opposition parties.
"Yet, for a country which already generates more than a third of its electricity from renewable sources, these announcements send a clear signal on the direction of Spain's energy mix," Wood Mackenzie's report read.