Spain seeks to reduce usage of energy by 2014

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The government will hand out free energy-saving light bulbs and invest in hybrid electric cars to counter rising energy costs.

30 July 2008

MADRID - Free energy-saving light bulbs, a 20-percent reduction in city speed limits and investment in electric vehicles are among a range of "urgent" measures due to be introduced by the government over the coming years at it seeks to counter soaring energy costs and reduce Spain's dependency on imported fossil fuels.

"The era of cheap and abundant energy is over... we are in the third oil crisis," Industry Minister Miguel Sebastián told lawmakers in Congress Tuesday.

Sebastián's sobering comments came as he presented the Socialist administration's energy plan for the 2008-2011 period, a EUR 245-million initiative that the minister acknowledged is being rushed into effect in the light of recent sharp increases in energy costs.

Though world oil prices have receded in recent weeks, Sebastián noted that the government is preparing for a future in which energy will remain expensive. The plan is due to be approved by the government on Friday.

Among 31 immediate and long-term measures, the plan calls for a reduction in urban speed limits to 40km/h, while increasing investment in electric and fuel-saving hybrid vehicles, which Sebastián described as "the future".

The aim is to have a million electric and hybrid vehicles on Spain's roads by 2014. The government will also free up military airspace for civilian use, cutting the length of flights through Spanish airspace by 10 percent on average.

In 2009 and again in 2010, all Spanish households will be given a voucher for an energy-saving light bulb in a bid to encourage people to switch from incandescent bulbs. In addition, all public buildings except hospitals will be forced to turn down their air conditioning and heating, while street lighting will be made more efficient.

The government expects to shave around EUR 4 billion of Spain's annual energy bill, and will also invest in energy infrastructure, including laying more efficient electrical power lines.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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