EXPLAINED: What is Spain’s energy saving plan?

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Spain’s government on Monday outlined measures to cut energy consumption and fossil fuel dependence in the country. Here’s a rundown of the main changes, from new rules for shops and public buildings to remote working recommendations.

Published: 2 August 2022 12:17 CEST

Shops, public buildings and transport hubs will have to switch off their window lights by 10pm under the new rules. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP)

The Spanish Cabinet on Monday approved the government’s ‘Energy Savings Plan’, a wide-ranging series of energy-saving measures focused on public buildings (town halls, employment offices etc), transport hubs such as airports and train stations, cultural spaces like theatres and cinemas as well as hotels, shops, department stores and other commercial spaces.

The aim is to increase energy savings and efficiency, cut costs, encourage a move to more sustainable fuels and renewable energies, and to show Spain’s support for broader European efforts to become less dependent on fossil fuels, amid not only bouts of extreme weather across the world but a volatile energy market caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to have air-conditioning at home in Spain?

Spain’s Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, explained that the measures will be in force until at least November 1st 2023, and operational within seven days of publication in the country’s Official State Gazette (BOE).

Facing criticism from some, particularly Madrid regional President Isabel Ayuso, Ribera assured the Spanish population that it “will not be cold” heading into winter.

But what are the measures? What are the changes?

The rules

Under the new rules, public buildings, transport hubs, cultural spaces and commercial sites must:

  • Set heating and cooling temperatures to a limit of 19C and 27C respectively. 
  • Install doors that automatically close by September 30th to prevent energy waste, as can happen with regular doors that are left open.
  • Window lights (as in those in shop windows) must be turned off at 10pm.
  • Boiler inspections: properties that passed their last energy efficiency inspections before January 1st 2021 must undergo another review before December 31st 2022 to meet the efficiency standards of the bill.
  • Posters must be put up to explain the energy saving measures in every building or establishment, and thermometers must be displayed to show the temperature and humidity of the room.

Spain’s Minister for Ecological Transition has also made some lifestyle recommendations to further save on energy.

Working from home

Working from home, or, as its known in Spanish, teletrabajo, has been recommended for large companies and public administration buildings to help “save on the displacement and thermal consumption of buildings”, Ribera said.

As in many countries around Europe, working from home has been recommended to save on travel and energy consumption in large public buildings.

Working from home had already become much more common in Spain as a result of Covid-19 restrictions. The percentage of employed people who work more than half their days from home in Spain more than doubled, from 4.8 percent in 2019 to 10.8 percent after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2021 it fell slightly to 9.5 percent, according to figures from Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE).

According to Ribera, large companies that encourage more working from home could make savings of more than €1 million per year. 

Renewable energies

In addition, there are a number of measures to boost renewable energies, including:

  • A quicker move from fossil fuels to renewable energies.
  • Speeding up the development of electricity networks, especially with regard to Spain’s transport infrastructure

  • Connecting biogas, biomethane and hydrogen plants to the network of transmission and distribution pipelines.

  • Measures to increase the energy efficiency of different productive sectors and boost the electrification of the economy with €350 million in aid.

Taking off your ties?

Of course, the host of measures outlined by Ribera are to be implemented together as part of broader energy saving measures, and will support Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s novel measure of taking off his tie to save energy. 

READ ALSO: VIDEO: ‘Take your ties off’, Spain’s PM says in bid to save energy

Feeling a little more comfortable would save energy if it resulted in less air-conditioning being used, the Prime Minister has claimed.

“This means that we can all save energy,” he argued, adding that he had asked all ministers and public officials to stop wearing ties and hoped the private sector would also follow suit.