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    A lost decade for energy sovereignty


    November 21, 2022 - CE Noticias Financieras

     

      The delay is so clamorous that even the Government speaks of a "lost decade". It is not the only area in which we are now paying for the ten years of inaction in which the mirage of independence was prioritized and everything else was postponed. But the energy sector is surely the one that best summarizes the contradiction of prioritizing a sovereignty of political decision that not even independence fully guarantees, and at the same time abandoning the one on which the future of the country will depend: energy sovereignty. And this is serious, because the way to get rid of foreign energy dependence is precisely to have as much renewable energy as possible.

      It is true that with the so-called sun tax, which penalized the installation of photovoltaic panels, and other measures clearly aimed at favoring large electricity companies and giving them time to take positions, the regulatory framework was not favorable. But these regulations were common to the whole of Spain and, therefore, do not explain why, while in the country as a whole renewable energies contribute 44% of the electricity we consume, with peaks of up to 60%, in Catalonia they barely contribute around 14%. In fact, solar in Catalonia only represents 1% of total energy, wind 2% and hydro 11.2%. And while in Spain the installed capacity of renewables reaches 54%, here it does not even reach 20%, taking into account the important contribution of hydroelectric power.

      It is now one year since the approval of decree 24/2021, which was supposed to unblock and accelerate the energy transition. It has been unblocked, but the results are still poor. So far this year, four large wind projects have been processed and another seven have been approved, totaling 355 MW of power. And it is also true that there is an explosion of self-consumption projects. In 2022, 25,711 have been approved, with 208 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, double the number processed since 1995, but the 50,000 installations in total are still far from the levels of countries such as Germany, and also far from the 500,000 that would be needed to help meet the decarbonization targets in 2050. To be on track, 12,000 MW of installed capacity would have to be reached by 2030, i.e. 18 times more than before the decree. And that is just around the corner.

      The challenge ahead for Catalonia is phenomenal, and requires concerted action at all levels and by all political actors. But it also requires neutralizing the idea that all this is possible without cost, without altering the landscape. Part of the opposition to wind mega-projects could be justified by the arrogant and extractivist way in which they are proposed by large investor groups, for whom renewable energy is just a new business in which the landscape and its inhabitants matter very little. But the current regulations give tools to the local community to promote, intervene and participate in a participatory and distributed renewable energy model. Justifying opposition only on landscape arguments is not very serious given the seriousness of the problem.

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