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Spanish Energy Costs Skyrocket, Highlights Need for Renewable Energy Storage

The price of electricity in Spain exceeded €100 per MWh last week. A price ceiling not seen since March 2014. 13 million households are being told to brace for an increase of 20% in their upcoming energy bills. The story reflects several problems choking la gente and the world at large. Climate change and rent-seeking utility companies. Although Spain generates large amounts of clean and low carbon energy, the renewable energy storage solutions available at present are not enough to prevent shocks such as this one.

Spain has faced extreme weather conditions in recent weeks. Storms and severe flooding have damaged energy production (and lettuce supplies in the UK) while increasing demand as cold sets in and snow arrives in places it usually doesn’t. Solar energy, from which Spain generates x amount of its consumption has been affected by thick cloud cover. 2016 on the whole was a year of drought and left reservoirs- crucial in hydroelectric power- 20% lower than expected.

Minor faults add up, the green and scientific community are unable to convey to the wider world the drastic changes needed to avert the mid-long term consequences of our pollution. Trouble for a couple of days or weeks can be shouldered with a grimace, repeat those days or weeks with increasing frequency and recovery from them becomes harder and harder.

Spain is in a privileged position in many ways, receiving as much sunlight as it does, having as much land as it does and as many windy mountains as it does. The renewable grid can and does contribute significantly to consumption needs. Dramatic increases in utility bills are not welcome in a country with severe unemployment problems. Large stores of power, not unlike reservoirs, are needed. Battery farms that can be filled while the sunshines and saved for literal rainy days are needed.

Countries have to work together to solve energy supplies, each geographical, social and economic ubiquity has its strengths and weaknesses. Exasperating customers with inflated bills for continued profit is a consequence of short term thinking. The unpredictability of essential weather patterns is symptomatic of the need for change. Renewable energy storage facilities would allow for reservoirs, topping them up is easy when the sun shines over 2000 hours a year.

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Mathew Sayer

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