Sunday , 21 July 2024
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Global Economy

Turn off the lights and sweat against lack of energy

In Spain, the past month was an average of 2.7 degrees too hot. Drought is currently causing problems in many places: there will be crop failures, 240,000 hectares of forest have been burned since January, the Mediterranean Sea on the Balearic Islands is over 30 degrees warm. Even the green north of Spain is suffering from unprecedented heat. In the Basque Country, some villages have to be supplied with drinking water by a tanker. "Cambio climático", climate change, is currently the dominant topic of many discussions in Spain.

Now, of all times, a lot of gas is being used to generate electricity. The share of renewable energy has decreased in the summer months: there was little wind and when it was hot, solar systems produced less electricity. At the same time, the energy requirement increased due to the heavy use of air conditioning. Because tourism is booming again. In Mallorca, 93 percent of the hotel beds were recently occupied. So in Spain more and more electricity is being generated in gas-fired power plants. The gas share in the electricity mix rose from 15 percent in May to 33 percent in July.

More climate protection than solidarity

However, since Spain has promised the EU that it also wants to save gas, the government has now enacted measures. Although Congress still has to confirm them in September, they will be implemented starting tonight. Most importantly, shop windows, unused offices and public buildings may no longer be illuminated nationwide after 10 p.m. And: In many public buildings, air conditioning systems are only supposed to cool the temperatures down to 27 degrees. 25 degrees applies to bars, restaurants and many shops.

Officially, the Spanish government justifies the measures by wanting to show solidarity with EU partners who are dependent on Russian gas. In the background, however, it is likely to be primarily about climate protection. Spain obtains its gas mainly through a pipeline from Algeria and via liquid gas terminals. A major connection to Central Europe was not completed years ago. So a cubic meter of gas saved in Spain cannot simply be used in other parts of Europe.

Climate emergency awareness

The energy expert Angel Saz says that the savings measures should send a signal that Spain should not continue to consume so much electricity in an energy and climate crisis.

Most people obviously see it the same way in these weeks of great heat and drought: the expected big debate about the measures did not materialize. The government is initially relying on voluntary implementation. This has already started in many cities.

People have become aware that things can't go on like this, says environmental activist Soledad Montero from the ecology activist group Ecologistas en Acción: "This summer is what many people missed to understand that we really are in a climate emergency condition."

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