Thursday, September 21

Energy saving measures, one by one: from the limit to air conditioning and turning off shop windows to teleworking

Green light for the first package of the Government’s Energy Savings Plan, which was approved by the Council of Ministers on Monday. This must be complemented later, in September, with more measures, warned the third vice president and head of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera. Now, the Executive has approved a decree with some obligations, such as a maximum and minimum temperature for heating and air conditioning in public buildings and some commercial premises, as well as the turning off of storefront lights and the revision of boilers. Ribera has also highlighted a recommendation, teleworking in public administrations and large companies.

The person in charge of Ecological Transition explained after nine o’clock at night, at the end of the Council of Ministers, that the measures approved this Monday will last until November 2023. In any case, Ribera recalled that the response package will be extended in September, so the time margins may vary.

The initiatives approved by the Government are briefly listed below. Ribera explained that it was “essential” to approve some measures “this week” to reduce energy spending and contribute to the containment commitment reached by Spain with the rest of the EU.

In the first place, together with the buildings of the General State Administration (AGE) in which savings measures were already being taken, the real estate of public administrations, as well as commercial establishments, such as department stores or shopping centres; cultural spaces, such as cinemas or congress centers; and infrastructures intended for the transport of people, such as stations and airports, must:

  • Have the heating and cooling temperatures limited to 19 and 27 degrees Celsius respectively. To do this, they will have seven days from the publication of the rule to make the limitation effective, which will be in force until October 1, 2023.
  • Display on posters or screens the mandatory saving measures, among other additional ones that reduce consumption. (With the same period of validity as the previous one).
  • Before September 30, have automatic closures on the access doors to prevent them from being permanently open, with the consequent “waste” due to energy losses abroad, warns Transition.
  • The lighting of the shop windows will have to be turned off from 10:00 p.m. This provision will also apply to public buildings that are unoccupied at the time. They will also have seven days to comply and will have to do so until October 1, 2023.
  • Regarding “boilers and thermal installations”, those properties that have passed the energy efficiency inspection before January 1, 2021 must undergo an extraordinary review before December 31, 2022, “so that all buildings with a consumption of relevant air conditioning have passed an inspection in the last two years”, they indicate in the department of Ribera.

Telecommuting Recommendation

Vice President Teresa Ribera has also emphasized a recommendation: teleworking in public administrations and “large companies”. “To save on the displacement and thermal consumption of buildings”, highlighted the third vice president.

From the Government they explain that, in this case, it is only a recommendation to “save on travel” and “consumption of buildings”. At the moment, they do not clarify how the idea is reflected in the royal decree, nor if it only reaches large companies.

“We were able to do it during the pandemic and since then we have learned a lot,” said Teresa Ribera about teleworking. The Public Administrations, at least the AGE, should already have the identification of teleworking positions that allow the promotion of remote work at this time, Ribera has indicated.

Promotion of renewable energies

In addition, there are a series of measures to promote renewable energies, among which the following stand out:

  • The new standard also includes measures to replace fossil fuels with renewables. “Among them, the acceleration of the procedures of the electricity networks stands out, reducing the requirements, especially in the case of transport infrastructures and those considered unique, such as the interconnections between the islands, which correspond to Red Eléctrica de España,” he explains. the Ministry.
  • In the case of self-consumption, “the change of modality is accepted -without surpluses, with surpluses- every four months, and a new mechanism is established in the event that a new installation with the right to compensation for surpluses takes more than two months to regularize”, indicates Transition.
  • An administrative procedure is also enabled so that renewable gas production facilities, such as biogas, biomethane or hydrogen, can be connected to the transport and distribution gas pipeline network, so that they gradually displace gas of fossil origin.

Emergency contracts will be allowed

Vice-president Ribera explained that the Executive has approved a modification of the public contract law so that the “three levels of the Administration” can award urgently, accelerated, contracts that have to do with energy efficiency, rehabilitation, the change of lighting fixtures, of terminal installations, among others to favor energy saving.

“These contracts will be executed in less than a month from their formalization,” indicates the Ministry of Energy Transition in a press release.

In terms of budget impact, the Ministry of Transition has pointed out that the measures that make it possible to structurally reduce external energy dependence will have “350 million euros in aid to increase the efficiency of different sectors of the economy and promote storage in the renewable facilities.

Also “a new auction of renewables is called, with 3,300 MW for wind and photovoltaic plants,” adds the department of Ribera.

The Government has highlighted that the measures approved today “are aimed at reducing consumption quickly” and highlight that “changes in behavior can reduce the demand for gas and oil by 5% in the short term”.