The IEA has launched a review of Spain’s energy policies, in which, the organisation has praised the country for its success in enhancing the security of its energy supply and introducing financial stability to the country’s electricity and natural gas systems. The report does however, detail areas in where Spain can improve its energy portfolio, including increasing energy efficiency so as to decouple demand and greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth.
‘Energy Policies of IEA Countries: Spain – 2015 Review’ points out that Spain’s dependence on energy imports has dropped markedly, thanks to a decline in imports and an increase in renewable energy supply. Spain is enjoying strong energy security as oil stocks are substantially higher than required by law and LNG capacity that is significant by international comparison. Spain also has a large, well diversified power generation fleet and a very reliable power system.
At the presentation of the report, IEA Executive Director, Maria van der Hoeven said that she hoped there would be new momentum for establishing additional cross border connections in electricity and gas between Spain and France. In February this year, the first new interconnection with France in almost three years was inaugurated, and several more gigawatts of capacity linking Spain and France are in the pipeline. Van der Hoeven said, “after so many years of limited results, it is encouraging to see these steps in the right direction, but let us be clear, they are first steps. Indeed we will need many times more interconnections for such efforts to truly show their worth.”
After years of effort, the Spanish government has managed to solve the large imbalance between the electricity system’s regulated costs and revenues. Key to this was broad and deep electricity market reform which, among other aspects, fundamentally changed the remuneration principles for renewable energy. Van der Hoeven commented, “Spain must now maintain its strong and long term commitment to a financially sustainable electricity system. To regain investor confidence, it should also closely follow the principles of transparency, predictability and certainty when revising policies and regulations.”
The report also stressed that even though Spain’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy use have been falling, they need to be reduced further, and the transport sector is said to offer prime opportunities. A critical question the IEA has highlighted however is how to encourage the transition to a low carbon energy system. In the context of EU 2030 targets an international climate negotiations, Spain should develop an energy strategy that integrates security of supply, sustainability and internal market dimensions. In doing so, Spain should seize the opportunity to play a bigger role in the context of one single European energy market.
The report made key recommendations for Spain and calls for:
- Developing a long term energy strategy covering all sectors in close consultation with all stakeholders.
- Reforming energy taxation and introducing revenue neutral fiscal incentives to encourage GHG reductions and energy efficiency improvements.
- Maintaining a strong long term commitment both to balancing the costs and revenues in the electricity and natural gas systems and to the principles of transparency, predictability, and certainty when suggesting changes to these systems.