More renewables for more economic development

(Estimated reading time: 5 minutes) – Audio version of article available.

The benefits of expanding renewable energy in our country, rich in resources like sun and wind, are well-known to all. They help to reduce pollution (and the health problems this causes (European Environment Agency, 2019)), and fight climate change by promoting decarbonisation and reduced CO2 emissions.

But there is much more: renewable energies have huge positive effects on our economy. Firstly, by replacing fossil fuels, which our country must import, they provide trade balance. Thus, in 2018, the industry avoided importing 20.7 million tonnes oil equivalent (TOE) in fossil fuels, leading to cash savings of 8,547,000,000 euros (APPA, 2019). In fact, this also led to savings on emissions allowances, at 899 million euros, since this prevented 56.6 million tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere.

In other words, renewable energies help us to reduce our energy dependence, which is currently 74%, and which the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) plans to reduce to 59% by 2030.

Secondly, renewable energies make electricity cheaper. The more renewable energies there are, the lower the prices of electricity on the daily market. This is because renewable energies are provided at much lower prices than other power generation plants. In 2018, they accounted for an average savings of 18.67 euros for every MWh, which means that, without them, the average daily-market price would have been 75.96€/MWh instead of 57.29 €/MWh.

Thirdly, pursuant to renewable energy roll-out goals set forth in the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan, the Asociación de Empresarios de Energías Renovables (Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs Association) estimates that over 45,000 MW in renewable energies could be installed by 2030, generating between 107,000 and 135,000 new jobs per year.

This is all essential to follow the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recommendations, which has confirmed that, to keep the planet’s average temperature increase beneath 1.5ºC, we must make an additional global investment in sustainable energy of 830 billion dollars, a figure very similar to today’s annual investment in oil-associated facilities (AIE, 2019).

The green economy in general, and the renewable sector in particular, is considered a way out of the economic crisis castigating the world these past few months since the emergence of COVID-19. The European Union also views it this way, approving the EU Recovery Plan, which has set its sights on an ecological transition as one of the great springboards for reactivation in the region. This plan is based on a series of grants (Spain is entitled to approximately 140 billion euros) channelled through the European Green Deal, which seeks to make Europe climatically neutral by 2050.

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