Spain approves contingency plan to cut natural gas use
Government insists that Spain will not have to worry about blackouts
The Spanish government agreed on a new energy contingency plan on Tuesday to drive down natural gas consumption by between 5% and 13% this winter.
The plan includes 73 measures on top of a package passed in the summer that limits heating in many public spaces to 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit).
While the government has yet to release the full details of the plan it will submit to the EU in Brussels, Spain’s Environment Minister Teresa Ribera outlined some of the main concepts.
More federal subsidies are set to come online to subsidize households and businesses that want to install solar panels or take other measures to boost energy efficiency.
By the end of the year, Ribera said households and businesses will likely have the capacity to produce 4.5 gigawatts of electricity from rooftop solar panels.
Transparency is another key factor, with the government committing to create a public platform that tracks how the national and local governments are meeting or failing to meet their plans to reduce natural gas consumption.
At the same time, more information will appear on electricity bills, including how households’ energy usage compares to their neighbors in hopes of nudging consumers to save energy.
Ribera also said the government would expand aid for households that are particularly vulnerable to soaring gas and electricity prices.
Although total gas consumption in Spain has increased since it promised Brussels that it would reduce gas usage by 6.4% before March, Ribera said that is primarily due to exports to neighboring countries and the drought that caused hydropower to drop by nearly half since last year.
“Spain has become a battery for Portugal’s electricity system and a guarantee that France’s electricity supply will be safe,” she said, asserting that Spain has been supplying 35% of Portugal’s electricity and around 5% of France’s.
Ribera insists that Spain does not have to worry about blackouts this winter as the country has created a diverse electricity mix that does not depend on any single country.
“Spain is not in the same situation as the rest of Europe,” she said. “We are much better prepared than the rest of the countries to face a crisis.”