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Spain: new policy, new energy for cities

By Miriam Eisermann on 26 July 2018

Preoccupied as media are by Brexit, Donald Trump and France’s World Cup victory, we can easily miss out on the domestic issues facing our neighbour to the south. Spain recently made quite remarkable strides in the energy domain. The country’s newly created Ministry for Ecological Transition is headed up by Teresa Ribera, an expert in sustainable development. Ms. Ribera is unequivocally in favour of the EU’s ambitious goals for renewables and energy efficiency, and has issued a plan calling for the repeal of Spain’s infamous sun tax. It is also expected that a long-awaited climate change law and the country’s integrated energy and climate plan will be enacted by the end of the year.


In this guest article, Fernando Ferrando, president of the Fundación Renovables – a Spanish foundation that advocates for a renewables-based energy paradigm – discusses the role of cities in Spain’s energy transition.

At Fundación Renovables, we recently unveiled in Madrid a comprehensive series of what we feel are urgently needed energy transition implementation measures. In this report called “Hacia una Transición Energética Sostenible” (Towards a sustainable energy transition), we also underline the need to electrify demand and to implement efficiency and zero emissions measures for both power consumption and supply, by replacing fossil fuels and nuclear energy with renewable energies.
We also define 2030 as a watershed year. In our view, in order to achieve decarbonisation by 2050, it will be necessary to have brought about a radical change by then in the way we use and relate to energy. These initiatives are predicated on the assumption that fiscal measures will constitute one of the main means to achieving this goal.

More than 80 % of Spaniards are urban dwellers, and the cities they inhabit account for 75 % of our country’s energy consumption. The actions we are calling for need to encompass all domains of the urban landscape such as neighbourhoods and districts, and should integrate mobility, building renovation, and plans for new public spaces. One of the fundamental principles espoused in our report is to see municipalities as the drivers of a new energy paradigm.

In our report, from the standpoint of energy, we regard cities as service providers and also as asset owners. In other words, because energy is a public service, cities need to take on new tasks such as selling electricity and managing their own energy landscape. This, in turn, will entail the development of municipally-owned renewable-energy generation facilities and/or fostering the creation of platforms that allow for peer-to-peer collaboration around and exchange of energy.

As for mobility and transport, apart from regulating access and traffic for vehicles that do not comply with emissions standards, we also propose that diesel vehicles be banned by 2025, and all vehicles with internal combustion engines be banned by 2040.
As far as buildings are concerned, in addition to favouring energy self-sufficiency and banning or taxing gas installations and the use of fossil fuels, we propose that a commitment be made to covering 100 % of consumption in all public buildings by renewable electricity and to improving their energy efficiency by 50 % by 2030. This shall be backed by a comprehensive energy rehabilitation plan for buildings.

Be this as it may, the Fundación Renovables firmly believes that these types of sustainable urban development also need to move in the direction of an energy system that empowers citizens.
We are convinced that cities have the capacity to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 % by 2040, if they adopt the right action plans. We actually described them in our previous scenario report entitled “Ciudades con Futuro” (“Cities with a future”).

Note from the editor: In the same vein, Spain’s most liberal cities, Barcelona, Cadiz, Madrid, Pamplona and Saragossa, have recently issued a joint declaration calling for a renewable energy transition in Spain .

Energy Cities in Spain

This past April, Claire Roumet and Miriam Eisermann (respectively Director and Head of Communications and Policy of Energy Cities) went to Spain to discuss European remunicipalisation and adaptation best practices – first at the 25th anniversary of the Vitoria-Gasteiz green belt, and subsequently to Vilafranca del Penedès, a city, they discovered, that is determined to take control of its energy supply.
This month, we are proud to welcome our new Spanish member, Valencia, and its 780,000 inhabitants, to the Energy Cities network.

Mark your calendar: Energy Cities will be holding workshops during this year’s Conama conference in Madrid (26-29 November) under the aegis of the Renewables Networking Platform.

©photos: Fundacion renovables

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