Los medios de transporte

THE MOST AND LEAST POLLUTING MEANS OF TRANSPORT

Climate change and the fight for decarbonisation mean that we have been hearing a lot about pollution lately, and modes of transport are also in the spotlight. Diesel or petrol cars? Public transport?

WHAT ARE THE LEAST POLLUTING MEANS OF TRANSPORT OF OUR TIME?

For the past few years, the debate on the control of toxic emissions and the management of environmental pollution has been on the front page of many media outlets every day. The repercussions this issue has on our immediate environment are increasingly having social, political and economic implications.

Now, at this time of the year, many of us travel and when we do so, we take many things into account. However, we rarely take into account which means of transport pollute the most or least to reach our destination.

These are the most and least polluting means of transport:

Walking and cycling:

Walking and cycling are always the most eco-friendly vehicles, which contribute to the care of the environment. Their use helps to control the amount of air and is a means of travel that does not release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This way of getting around is also healthy and has multiple benefits, in fact, when moving around the city it is even faster to cycle or walk.

Trains and rail transport:

In this case, we are talking about the metro, the tramway, the high-speed trains… These represent the mass transport with the lowest emissions on the environment. The train, in particular, can carry more than 150 people with emissions of 14g of CO2 per person. In addition, using public transport brings another benefit to the environment by reducing traffic jams.

The ship:

Its environmental impact depends very much on the ship or the fuel it uses. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), a commercial vessel emits approximately 18 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled. A much more environmentally friendly option than other modes of transport, such as the car or plane (depending on emissions and occupancy capacity).

The car:

The real problem with car use is not in itself how much it pollutes (104g CO2 per kilometre per traveller), but that it is not used in a functional way. Of course, a car pollutes a lot and if it is a diesel car even more. To give you an idea, cars in Spain’s main cities pollute more in a single day than the country’s biggest factory does in a whole year. All the cars in the world generate ten times more polluting gases than all the active volcanoes on Earth.

The aeroplane:

Finally, the plane is the most polluting means of transport and the one that generates the most greenhouse emissions. On many occasions, for long-distance journeys we have no choice but to take the plane, however, for other shorter journeys, the train can be a much more environmentally friendly alternative.

In short, just by making small gestures and thinking a little about the environment when we travel, we could create a much more sustainable and less polluted planet.

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descarbonización

IN THE FIGHT TOWARDS DECARBONISATION

Decarbonisation is a process to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mainly in the form of carbon dioxide. All countries in this process are taking action with measures to reduce emissions of these gases.

WHAT IS THE WAY TO ACHIEVE DECARBONISATION?

It is now 20 years since the first international agreement was signed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, known as the Kyoto Protocol, but even so, emissions have continued to grow.

Excess greenhouse gases cause the atmosphere to store more energy, average temperatures to rise and more extreme weather events to occur, throwing the planet’s energy balance out of balance. It is therefore essential to accelerate the decarbonisation of the economy, and to this end, we can implement renewable energies.

Renewable energies are called upon to play an indispensable role in moving towards a global zero emissions balance. In addition to reducing the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, they reduce energy dependence and facilitate self-supply.

The new climate change law sets out the path towards decarbonisation. It aims to ensure compliance with the Paris Agreement, facilitate decarbonisation, the transition to a circular model, promote adaptation to the impacts of climate change and consolidate a sustainable development model that generates employment.

It includes important measures in the areas of energy, sustainable mobility, adaptation to climate change, just transition and domestic resource mobilisation, including the development of an international climate finance strategy to ensure that Spanish development cooperation and investments are aligned with the climate goals of the SDGs.

In this fight, there is a major impact on companies as it is not possible to achieve our goals and meet our climate obligations without business involvement.

Every year that passes is one less year we have at our disposal to act, one more year in which greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and one more year in which the scientific evidence on the urgent need for climate action is consolidated, therefore, in the coming years we have to take decisive steps to achieve the Paris Agreement Goals.

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Dependencia energética

WHAT IS ENERGY DEPENDENCE?

Energy dependence can be defined as the amount of primary energy that a country needs to import in order to supply itself, whether in the form of heat, electricity or for transport. Therefore, we are talking about a country’s dependence on the outside world for all the energy it consumes.

RENEWABLES, THE BIG BET AGAINST ENERGY DEPENDENCE

Spain is experiencing a boom in renewable energies that points towards 2030 with an ambitious goal: that 42% of the country’s final energy consumption and 74% of all electricity generation should come from renewable sources. This means bringing 60,000 MW of clean energy into operation over the course of a decade.

Our country’s dependence on foreign energy is approximately 73-74%, making it one of the most energy-dependent countries in the European Union, given that the EU’s average energy dependence is 53%.

A high energy dependence has major consequences, such as:

  • Instability in the energy supply: since dependence on other countries for part of the energy consumed by a country can generate alterations in the energy supply, as this is not solely under the control of the importing country.
  • The effects on the economy: because energy dependence on foreign countries means that the economy suffers from continuous fluctuations in the price of energy, which generates instability in the cost of energy. As a consequence, this energy dependence can lead to a deficit in the countries’ balance of trade.

So… Are renewables the solution to our energy independence?

Renewables are playing an increasingly important role as a source of clean energy for consumers and also as a buffer against the international geopolitical situation and the volatility of fossil fuel markets, and one of their main benefits is energy independence.

Renewables are limitless and improve air quality and therefore the quality of life, allowing for a less volatile energy market with greater price stability.

And for our part… What can we do to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels?

  • Use public transport or a bicycle instead of a car.
  • Reuse and recycle packaging and avoid plastic.
  • Buy organic food and clothing to avoid petroleum-based materials.
  • Switch to 100% green and renewable energy.

To reduce energy dependency, it is up to us to promote the use of renewable energies such as solar, hydro and wind power.


fuentes de energía renovables

WHAT IS EXPECTED FROM RENEWABLES IN THE FUTURE?

Currently, fossil fuels account for about two-thirds of all power generation capacity, but the rise of renewables will flip the script and they will account for only one-third of power generation capacity in the future.

¿HACIA DONDE SE DIRIGE EL SECTOR?

Renewable energy sources have been developing for decades and are undoubtedly already bearing fruit. Just a few years ago they generated 39% of all electricity consumption in Spain, but they are on the rise. As the word itself indicates, renewable energy sources are an alternative to non-renewable sources and have a long way to go.

The importance of renewable energy is not a whim, but rather a necessity to ensure human survival and the continued habitability of the earth’s surface. Indeed, one of the current trends in these energy sources is the need to mitigate production costs, which will make them even more competitive.

Another thing that is already underway is the gradual integration of the grid. Fortunately, intermittent renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, are already helping to balance the grid. As a result, there are no chaotic rises or falls in prices, and they remain stable even when demand is higher.

And in Spain, how is the renewable energy sector doing? Many companies are already investing and investing in the development, improvement and implementation of numerous renewable energy sources. Spain is one of the countries that has made the greatest commitment to the transition towards a more sustainable paradigm, which has led to the progressive decarbonisation of the country’s different industries.  By 2030, renewable energy production is expected to account for 42% of the total.

As a country committed to phasing out the use of coal by 2050, it is foreseeable that renewable energies in Spain will continue to develop favourably. This poses challenges that the main companies dedicated to energy generation are already facing.

In short, as we can see, the trend towards renewable energies is favourable, with a view to a greener future, with a reduction in the effects of climate change, with a reduction in the effects of climate change and with a view to caring for the entire planet.


olas de calor

HOW DOES HEAT AFFECT PHOTOVOLTAIC SOLAR PANELS?

Since the start of summer, Spain has been experiencing weeks of heat waves with record highs. This is due to the fact that climate change is causing the Earth’s temperature to increase from one year to the next. The extreme temperatures are causing damage not only to people’s health but also to the environment with fires and storms and to photovoltaic systems, as they no longer produce energy when it is hot.

THE PERFORMANCE OF SOLAR PANELS WITH HEAT

People think that photovoltaic panels generate more energy the hotter it is, but this is completely false.  This is because photovoltaic solar panels produce energy thanks to light and not heat. In fact, high temperatures have a negative effect on the performance of photovoltaic panels – heat does not agree with solar panels!

In order to produce energy, solar panels need solar radiation, which is not the same as ambient temperature. Therefore, it is possible to have good solar radiation without excessive temperatures. In the spring season, for example, solar panels work more efficiently than in summer, as there is good quality solar radiation and the temperature is milder.

The peak power of a solar panel is the maximum electrical power that can be generated. It is only at this point that 100% of the photovoltaic cells’ performance is obtained. We will only see 100% of the production on sunny winter days, i.e. if we install 100 Kwp in solar panels, it is normal that only on sunny winter days will we reach this peak production.

As we have seen, as the temperature rises, the yield decreases. Most manufacturers claim that at 40 degrees, solar panel performance is usually around 80% efficiency. The ideal temperature for maximum production is between 20 and 25 degrees.

Some recommendations that we can follow for a good management of a photovoltaic installation to avoid problems are the following:

– Install inverters and monitors to avoid overheating of the installation.

– Leave space between the panels and the surface, as this will provide more ventilation and will not absorb heat directly.

– Use distribution sheets on the panel, these distribute the temperature to a specific point.

– Use panels with cooling, which can increase efficiency by 20%.

Undoubtedly, the successive heat waves that we are experiencing in our country are wreaking damaging havoc during their passage, even in photovoltaic systems.


La agrovoltaica

AGROVOLTAICS: SOLAR ENERGY AND AGRICULTURE

Agrovoltaics mainly consists of combining agricultural production and renewable energy generation, i.e. solar panels coexisting with crops on the same surface. This innovative approach aims to create value both in the territory and in the local communities where it operates.

HOW CAN AGROVOLTAICS BE HARNESSED? WHAT ARE THE MANY BENEFITS OF AGROVOLTAICS?

Agrovoltaics corresponds to the use of the resources generated by the generation of photovoltaic energy for agricultural development.

Thanks to the solar panels, the soil on which they are installed is kept more humid and protected from direct sunlight, thus providing a cooler and more prolific environment for the development of plants. With this combination, both parties benefit from the use of each other’s resources.

For this practice, fixed support systems are used to raise the solar panels about five metres above the crop field. This allows farm machinery access to the crops below. On the other hand, there are installations that have tracking systems, which allow the panels to be oriented to maximise their efficiency and prevent them from always casting shade in the same place, thus adapting to the needs of the plants.

Spain is an ideal country for the implementation of these actions. The incident light in Spain can more than meet the national energy demand. This is why installing solar panels on crop fields in Spain is money well invested, as long as we check the amount of solar radiation that our land receives. The high amount of solar energy that Spain receives and its potential as a cultivation area, is the result of a perfect niche for this new form of agriculture.

Agrovoltaics has many benefits, as we have already seen. What are some of them?

Maximising solar energy: Cropland, grasslands and wetlands are the three main land covers where there is the greatest potential for solar PV production.

Higher yield of the solar installation: having crops under the PV panels reduces the temperature of the panels, while avoiding a decrease in yield.

No creation of waste: neither acoustic nor physical. In this way it reduces any negative impact on the natural environment and does not create any waste for the development of agriculture and livestock, giving freedom to this type of resources.

It reduces the use of water: Plants have what could be called a light saturation point. Therefore, thanks to the shadows generated by the solar panels, they help to prevent the plants from having a greater demand for water. Water savings are increased thanks to the shade cast by the solar panels, preventing faster evaporation and retaining more water in the soil.

As we can see, the uses and utilities of photovoltaic solar energy continue to expand, and agrovoltaics is undoubtedly a new innovation that contributes to thinking about solar energy in a broader way.


La energía eólica marina

OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY

Offshore wind power is a derivation of wind energy that places its installations offshore, benefiting from the greater impact of the wind and its greater constancy. In order to exploit this resource to the maximum, large offshore structures equipped with the latest technical innovations are developed.

ADVANTAGES OF OFFSHORE WIND AND ITS IMPACT IN SPAIN

Currently, offshore wind farms are located in shallow waters (60 metres) and far from the coast and protected areas due to their geological interest. This feature gives Spain the opportunity to join the floating offshore wind boom.

Several companies have already been designing projects to install wind farms off the Spanish coast.  In fact, in December 2021, the government approved the Roadmap for the Development of offshore wind and marine energy in Spain. This roadmap aims to promote new renewables in marine waters by 2030 with the objective of reaching between 1,000 and 3,000 MW of floating offshore wind power and 60 MW of other more incipient marine energies, such as wave or tidal energy.

According to studies by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the continental wind power industry association Wind Europe, floating wind will accelerate its technological maturity in the coming years and will reduce its operating costs in order to increase its competitiveness.

What are the main advantages of offshore wind energy?

  • It is a clean, renewable, inexhaustible energy and therefore contributes to ending dependence on fossil fuels.
  • It is a cheap source of energy that can compete with other traditional energy sources that are more harmful to the environment, such as coal, petrol or diesel.
  • In offshore wind farms the wind flow is even more constant than on land, as they do not encounter rough surfaces or obstacles.
  • In countries with a high population density, the installation of floating wind farms is a good option, as they do not affect human activity.

Spain currently wants to have between 15 and 17 floating offshore wind farms by the end of this decade. To do so, it needs to develop an incipient technology in which it is a leader and which can open up markets around the world, although we will also have to face some difficulties because the environmental declaration is more complicated than on land.

In order to put offshore wind energy into practice in our country, one of the first steps must be to approve maritime spatial plans to determine possible sites and regulate coexistence with other activities.


La cumbre de la OTAN

NATO SUMMIT, RENEWABLE ENERGY AND CLIMATE EMERGENCY

The NATO summit is taking place in Madrid on 28, 29 and 30 June, more than four months after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Analysts agree that this summit is one of the most important to be held by the military alliance in recent decades.

THE STRUGGLE TOWARDS AN ENERGY TRANSITION

This summit is perhaps one of the most relevant because we are at a turning point in which the global order is being reconfigured, on the occasion of COVID-19 and accentuated by the war in Ukraine.

As a result of the war in Ukraine, the commitment to renewable energies is being accelerated by trying to break ties with Russian energy.

Today, Russia supplies gas that supplies Europe: 40 % of the gas that the European Union imports comes from Russia. And that percentage rises to 100 % for Bulgaria, 90 % for Finland and Lithuania, 80 % for Poland, 60 % for Austria and Hungary, 50 % for Germany and 40 % for Italy.

As the data shows, Europe’s high energy dependence is evident. For this reason, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, among many other actions, has pushed for agreements to improve the European energy market. In view of this situation, what should the European Union propose? That 60% of its energy pool should come from renewable energies by 2030, contributing to decarbonisation and the fight against climate change.

Renewable energies such as wind and solar are undoubtedly a key component of the path towards energy independence. In fact, the rate of renewable energy has not stopped growing, making the biggest leap since 2020.

The way to achieve this energy transition, decarbonisation and the fight against climate change is to set as a goal the European Green Pact, a programme of the European Commission aimed at making the continent a climate-neutral area by 2050. We can therefore consider the European Green Pact as another tool in the fight against the Russian invader.

The aim of the European Green Pact is to achieve climate neutrality, as Europe’s future depends on the planet’s future.  Today’s climate and environmental challenges demand an urgent and ambitious response.


La inteligencia artificial

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND RENEWABLE ENERGIES

Artificial Intelligence is currently playing a key role in the transformation of the energy model. It allows us to do something that we are not capable of doing: to handle large amounts of data, which must also be processed in a logical and reasonable way. And in the field of energy in particular?

ENERGY SECTOR HARNESSES THE POTENTIAL OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

We are currently in the midst of a transition to a sustainable energy system. Most countries are not reducing their emissions fast enough, so the integration between renewables and smart grids is essential.

Renewable energies such as wind and photovoltaic will become much more efficient in the future with the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Many energy companies are already starting to apply Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to control the demand and production of renewable energies.

Solar and wind energy are linked to climatic factors to generate renewable energy, which conditions energy productivity. This conditions the productivity of energy, but with AI we can anticipate the drop in electricity production with the demand for consumption to stabilise the amount of energy available in the system. What do we achieve with this? Avoid outages or shortages of electricity supply at specific times and places where it is not possible to cover everything with renewable energies alone. These two types of energy will benefit the most from the use of AI in the management of the energy production grid.

In 2021, the World Economic Forum published a report entitled Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Accelerate the Energy Transition, which explains that the global energy system is undergoing a massive transformation and that a process of decentralisation, digitalisation and decarbonisation will be consolidated in the coming decades.

Thanks to Big Data and data analytics, we can predict up to 36 hours in advance in which geographic areas renewable energy production will drop and where those additional demand peaks will occur.

As renewable energy deployment increases to decarbonise the sector, more energy will be delivered through endless sources such as solar and wind, creating the need for better forecasting, better coordination and more flexible consumption. With AI, we will be able to identify more accurate patterns and behaviours, so they play a crucial role in accelerating performance. AI has proven to be a key element in making installations more efficient, smarter and more capable in triggering the energy transition.

The future of renewables with AI is promising and although still limited, we may soon see it in long-term projects.


La energía solar

THE RISE OF RENEWABLE ENERGIES

Both solar photovoltaic and wind energy are fundamental to the energy transition. In the case of photovoltaic solar energy, its implementation is breaking records and is making history.

PHOTOVOLTAIC ENERGY IN EUROPE AND SPAIN

Photovoltaic solar energy is the energy that comes from the sun’s rays and can be used thanks to the use of solar panels. It is a renewable and unlimited resource.

Within the European Union, the use of renewable energies is booming and by 2050, the goal is that 55% of energy will be produced by renewables. What is necessary for this? Solar energy. Thanks to it, we have the opportunity to get rid of our dependence on fossil fuels, such as gas.

The European Union already produces more than 10% of the energy it consumes thanks to the sun. At present, the panels installed throughout the Union’s territory produce 165 GW, generating no less than 39 terawatt hours.

Although the 2050 target is a common project of 27 countries, the development of sustainable energy is not the same in all of them.

At the top of the ranking is Germany, where the sun is responsible for the production of 17 % of the country’s energy mix. In second place is the Netherlands, and in third place is Spain.

And in Spain, how has solar energy evolved? In the last three years, installed solar PV capacity in Spain has tripled from 4,767 MW at the beginning of 2019 to a total of 15,190 MW by the end of 2021. This increase is due to two key factors: the repeal of the tax and the aid and subsidies for self-consumption and solar energy storage.

Repeal of the sun tax: The sun tax was a charge levied on energy generated through the use of photovoltaic installations. This discouraged and hindered the development of photovoltaic solar energy in our country. This measure was eliminated on October 5, 2018 when the end of the sun tax was announced and solar self-consumption installations began to take off with the entry into force of surplus compensation on March 1, 2020.

Grants and subsidies: Another key element in the development of solar energy in Spain has been the many grants and subsidies we have received over the years. Currently, several aid programs are open under the funds of the “Next Generation EU” recovery plan, which began at the end of 2021 and amount to 660 million euros.

Spain, the country with the best solar radiation in Europe, has an irradiation of between 1600 KW/m2 and 1950 KW/m2 and an irradiation of between 1600 KW/m2 and 1950 KW/m2. Even so, it is far from Germany, which has 10 times more installed capacity.