November 28, 2007

Spain chooses wind power for energy efficiency

Spain’s air may be cleaner but its landscape and coastline will change dramatically over the next 13 years if a draft of the socialist government’s drastic new energy plan is adopted.

Many beauty spots and costa views will be blighted under a plan whereby Spain will displace natural gas with wind turbines as the main source of energy by the year 2020.

Don Quixote may have more windmills to tilt at but ecological groups such as Greenpeace have already expressed their preference for this form of renewable energy.

With Spain’s neglected electrical utilities suffering from a lack of investment, causing blackouts in cities such as Barcelona and Madrid during peak demand, the government has drawn up a plan to modernise the entire sector.

“The draft plan is expected to be adopted early next year,” a ministry spokesman said. “There are a number of possible scenarios but the major objective is to move towards renewable energy sources. These are also favoured by the main ecological groups.”

Just off the unspoiled shoreline near Cabo de Trafalgar on Spain’s southern Atlantic coast, among the wrecks and bones of the Battle of Trafalgar, will arise from the shallow sea bed a forest of 500 pylons, each 280 ft. high.

Many other parts of Spain where winds are frequent have now also been earmarked for wind farms.

The Ministry of Industry plans to announce over the next few weeks its more detailed plans to erect tens of thousands of pylons.

This will require a further investment of about €45,000m in order to produce 107.845 MW of electricity by the year 2030. The ambitious scheme involves tripling wind power in order to reduce Spain’s dependency on foreign suppliers of gas (North Africa) and to reduce pollution.

By also increasing hydro-electric and solar power, the government hopes to reduce harmful greenhouse gases given off by burning fossil fuels as they generate electricity.

Natural gas will still be used to produce energy, especially as an alternative to when wind – and therefore wind-power, drops.

Hydro-electric power, which depends on an increasingly precarious necessity in Spain, water, will have to produce 3.5 per cent more energy to meet a fifth of the nation’s demand.

Nuclear power still also be used as a backbone to the new draft energy plan, announced just three months before a general election. Its capacity will be reduced slightly to 7.1 per cent.

Coal powered stations, the object of Greenpeace protests during the recent UN global warming conference in Valencia, will be almost completely phased out. But if new technology can reduce the pollution they reduce, some might be retained.

Overall, the plan hopes to increase the dependence on renewable energy from 27 per cent to 48 per cent of the national requirement, a large part to be supplied by wind farms.

Another key part of the plan is to encourage factories, offices and homes to become more energy efficient.

By Edward Owen in Madrid

Telegraph (UK)

26 November 2007

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