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Coal blocks solar on sun-kissed islands

The Balearic Islands have abundant sunshine, but the coal-fired power station Es Murterar on Mallorca is the main source of energy for the islands. Rather than investing in clean renewables, the Spanish government is wasting taxpayers’ money on this obsolete fossil fuel.

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The sun-kissed islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera have an ambitious plan to become sustainable holiday destinations and power themselves from renewable energy. However, the Spanish Government continues to direct subsidies to coal-fired electricity generation from the Es Murterar power station on Mallorca, skewing the market and hampering the roll out of clean energy. The Energy Minister is even altering legislation in an attempt to give himself more powers to stop power station closures - and pour in even more taxpayers’ money to prop them up.

In the Balearics (as well as other extra-peninsular regions of Spain like the Canary islands) electricity is subsidised - but mainly electricity produced from fossil fuels. Wealthy energy companies like Endesa are paid whatever the energy production cost and for investments in their infrastructure. The costs are charged to bill payers and to taxpayers across the whole country.

Because of this system Endesa ends up earning three times as much for producing electricity in the Balearics as they do on the mainland, with no incentive to reduce costs. On average, Spanish citizens have to cough up an extra €400-500 a year just for Endesa’s Balearic operations and the coal shipped in from overseas, while residents lose out on new jobs in a sustainable domestic renewables sector.

The Balearic Islands government is committed to the energy transition and has an aim to be 100% renewable by 2050. They have set out a clear energy transition plan with a phased shut down of the coal-fired power station. Infuriatingly, the Spanish central government has rejected this phased closure.

It is not just the carbon emissions that anger locals. Their health and environment suffer from the polluting process of burning coal. It has been calculated that in 2015 the plant caused 54 premature deaths by its emissions of NOx, SO2 and dust. The local area around it endures one of the highest levels of tropospheric ozone (created by a combination of combustion processes and hot weather) in the whole of Spain, a significant cause of respiratory diseases.

The Balearics are not the only ones in conflict with the central government over coal power. In the north of the country, the Energy Ministry is preventing Iberdrola energy company from shutting its two  last coal plants.

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Find out more about GOB Mallorca and IIDMA via the links below:

  • Read this report showing the risk of stranded assets from Endesa coal investments.

  • Read IIDMA’s blog on the power station and IIDMA in the news

  • More information on the use of coal in Spain from IIDMA [in Spanish].

Follow @GOBMallorca on Twitter and on Facebook.

Follow @iidma_ecolaw on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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Credits and acknowledgements

Graphic design: Mark Bitter, BITTER design, www.markbitter.de

Web design: Olov Källgarn, Pixelengine www.pixelengine.se

Financial support: This project has been realized by the helpful support of the KR Foundation and the European Commission LIFE program

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