The slow start of electric cars is holding back the green transition

The slow start of electric cars is holding back the green transition

In December 2015, following the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, an international agreement was signed that set the goal of keeping global warming before the end of this century below 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels, and potentially limiting it to 1.5 degrees. . The main instrument for achieving this goal is the energy transition which is understood as the change from an energy system (production, distribution and consumption) based on fossil fuels to a low or no carbon emissions system, based on carbon and renewable energy sources.

One of the big levers towards decarbonisation is the expansion of electricity use. It is the process of replacing fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas in all economic sectors. The government aims to reach a weight of 34% by 2030, but that means increasing the current levels of 22.5%, in record time, after falling from 25% in 2019. Change in industry, transport and communication, and to a lesser extent, some recipes are found in household boilers Electrified.

Fleet change

Despite the ambition, electric vehicle implementation is progressing slowly. At the end of 2022, there were 325,675 registered electric cars, which is still far from the 540,000 cars targeted for 2025 and the 5.5 million planned for 2030. The distance from this target explains the existence of aid such as the movement plan or the 15-person relief. % in personal income tax up to a maximum of €3,000, approved at the end of June.

Among the reasons for this slow development could be the reduced deployment of charging points – of the 80,000 to 110,000 sockets planned for the end of this year in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan at the end of September, there were only around 27,420, according to electric vehicle employer, Aedive. . The Spanish regulatory body, the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC), has finalized a report on the problems found in its development and implementation. Installing a charging point takes a few months, but obtaining the necessary permits to operate it requires between one and two years, plus a period of up to a year and a half if it affects the road.

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Less gas boilers

In the domestic sphere, heat pumps are also required to play an important role by consuming four times less energy than gas or oil boilers. But in 2022, Spain was the fifth country with the lowest rate of heat pump sales across Europe, with 9.8 heat pumps per 1,000 households, according to a report on the European market in 2023 by the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), for its European Market Report In 2023). Abbreviation in English).

In terms of how all this electricity is produced, the pipelines will be renewable energies, whether for electricity generation or for end-use energy, although one and the other are directly related. Renewables are the ones with the fastest implementation rate, with capacity growth in 2022 of 42%, compared to 38% in 2019, making Spain the first country among the largest economies in Europe to reach 50% renewables in its generation structure. . .

This method has witnessed a real boom since 2018, moving from 0.4 gigawatts installed to 5.2 gigawatts, first in the midst of new regulatory frameworks, such as the end of the tax on the sun, and the increase in the electricity bill after the Russian invasion of Iraq. Ukraine and the distribution of government aid amounting to more than 2,000 million euros in the past year and a half. A good pace prompted the government to raise self-consumption targets to 19 gigawatts, compared to 8 to 14 gigawatts set in 2021.

Green hydrogen

Another issue is that everything that cannot be electrified, such as energy demand in high-temperature industrial processes or heavy transportation, is met by gases of renewable origin, such as green hydrogen and biogas. Renewable hydrogen is expected to be one of the key players in the energy transition, with a goal of reaching 11 GW by 2030. Despite the huge expectations generated, with multi-billion investment announcements by major energy companies, the reality is that today there are barely a handful of Projects under implementation. However, the government has tripled its ambitious 2030 target of 11 gigawatts of electrolyzers.

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The problem with this energy carrier is that it is very expensive, compared to its fossil alternative (gray hydrogen, which is produced with gas). This difference has worsened in recent months, during which the price of gas decreased (35 euros) compared to the record levels reached in 2022 (200 euros). Moreover, the government here relies on oil companies, which are the main consumers of hydrogen in Spain. Beyond industrial consumption, the government's strategy is to produce this quantity and also export this product to other countries.


The main project is the hydroelectric producer H2Med which aspires to join the Iberian Peninsula with Germany through an underwater canal between Barcelona and Marseille.

Another way to decarbonize industry is through biogas. The gas is produced from organic materials, especially waste. It is the renewable gas that has priority in the short and medium term (ahead of green hydrogen) and after being enriched into biomethane it can have the same consumer uses and users and use the same infrastructure used for natural gas. In 2020, biogas production reached 8,079 TWh, while the target for 2030 in the PNIEC project is 20 TWh. The gas companies, combined into Cedegas, estimate production potential at up to 163 TWh, enough to decarbonize 45% of national natural gas demand, compared to the 20 TWh set by the government.


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Another focus of the energy transition is efficiency. In other words, use as little energy as possible with the same or similar result in comfort and service. One measure to enhance efficiency is the rehabilitation of homes. In the year before the Covid pandemic, just over 31,100 homes were rehabilitated, and although this is 10% more than in 2018, the government's target is to multiply this activity by ten by 2030, reaching 300,000 homes per year. .

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In the recovery plan, 3.420 million euros will be allocated to rehabilitate housing through work on facades and roofs, improving building insulation and carpentry, replacing windows in homes, installing solar panels, aerobic heat, and improving accessibility. Of buildings. The goal is to reach 510,000 housing renovations in less than three years, in the second quarter of 2026, which means an ambitious average pace of about 71,000 homes per year.

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