Spain to slash energy bill by 11.5 bn euros by 2020

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Spain unveiled plans Wednesday to reduce energy consumption and cut its energy bill by 11.5 billion euros by 2020.

The bulk of the savings, 9.5 billion euros ($13.5 billion), will come from the railway sector, the transportation ministry which developed the plan said in a statement.

The plan calls for the replacement of diesel powered trains with more energy-efficient electric trains as well as the adoption of "economic driving" methods, it said.

Aircraft meanwhile will be assigned more direct routes between cities and they will replace the method by which they approach airports prior to landing with a more fuel efficient system dubbed the "continuous descent approach".

Under traditional landing procedure, aircraft descend and then level off several times in their drop, which requires pilots to increase power several times to maintain altitude.

In "continuous descent approach" the descent is a constant drop from altitude that can be accomplished in most cases without increasing engine power until immediately before landing.

The government will also replace traditional fluorescent or incandescent bulbs on roads and highways with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that use less power and have longer life spans.

The government expects the measures will lead to a reduction of 36.4 million tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 in addition to the cost savings.

The measures come on top of a package of 20 steps unveiled in early March to reduce Spain's energy bill that included a temporary reduction in the speed limit on highways to 110 kilometres (68 miles) per hour from 120 kph in response to the rise in world oil prices

Alongside the lower speed limit, Spain will cut the price of commuter and short-distance rail tickets by 5.0 percent and increase the proportion of bio-fuel used in diesel and gasoline from 5.8 percent to 7.0 percent.

Spain is almost completely dependent on imported fuel for road transport, although a fifth of its electricity output is generated by wind power, and the spike in oil prices has added to pressures on inflation and the trade deficit.

Each increase of 10 euros in the cost of a barrel of oil adds some six billion euros to Spain's annual energy bill, according to government calculations.

Brent oil prices on Wednesday hit $123 for the first time since August 2008 as traders mulled the outlook for supplies amid unrest in Libya.

© 2011 AFP

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