Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Spanish coal mining ceased to be profitable in the 1960s. Apart from the low quality of the coal, the problem was the low capital investment (the emphasis on labour over machinery). The coal mining oligarchs were bailed out and Spain has been subsidizing its coal for 50 years. This became a problem when the European Coal and Steel Community treaty lapsed in 2002, making coal subsidies illegal under EU law.

Investment in hydroelectric continued into the 1960s because dams are big civil engineering projects which the Spanish oligarchy likes. Franco liked to have himself filmed for propaganda inaugurating dams. His speeches about "pertinacious drought" became a running joke.

Spain built some nuclear around 1970 but all the nuclear plants now in operation were built in the 1980s. It now has seven 1Gw complexes due to be phased out in the 2020s to 2030s. There is a nuclear moratorium since 1984 meaning no new plants.

A number of combined-cycle gas plants were completed after 2000, with extremely optimistic projections on future demand growth. The Spanish government liberalised the electricity market and instituted a baroque pricing system which includes massive subsidies to producers, which have become larger and larger as demand has lagged projections and combined-cycle plants have become money losers.

The need to protect the electric utility oligarchy and rescue them for their overinvestment in gas plants is behind Rajoy's killing of renewable energy in Spain.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 30th, 2014 at 06:01:42 AM EST
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