Spain Plans 100 Percent Renewable Power by 2050!

Spain’s government has released  a trailblazing new plan to move to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, going far beyond the EU’s own targets.

The majority Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party released details of the draft law on Tuesday, November 13. It spells out how the country will meet its commitments under EU law and in so doing changes the landscape of its energy and transport sectors.

One of the plans is for Spain to source at least 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by 2030. It wants to take that commitment to 100 percent by 2050. In tandem with this switch, Spain is hoping to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least a fifth at the 2030 mark. By 2050 it is hoping to have reduced them by 90 percent.

The legislation does not have firm dates on phasing out coal, making this an aspirational goal rather than a concrete one. However, in order for Spain to reduce its emissions by as much as 90 percent by 2050 it will likely have to retire much of its coal reliance.

Another key area of emissions that Spain will have to tackle is the car industry. Spain’s transport sector is where it could stand to make significant improvements, and it has set itself some big targets. By 2040 the government wants to ban the sale of fossil fuel vehicles, regardless of whether they use gasoline, diesel or natural gas. In addition, by 2050 the government would like to see a scheme with local councils to stop fossil fuel-using cars from being on the market and in circulation.

The legislative effort has received high praise from key experts. Laurence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation, told the Guardian, “By planning on going carbon neutral, Spain shows that the battle against climate change is deadly serious, that they are ready to step up and plan to reap the rewards of decarbonisation.”

Green campaigners have welcomed this move, but not everyone is happy.

A Dirty Fight Might Be Looming in Europe Over Transport

Car makers, in particular, have sounded their disquiet.

Following the release of some of the law’s details, The Spanish Association of Car and Lorry Manufacturers (Anfac) dubbed the law “excessive and rushed” and said, “This means a direct ban on the marketing of diesel, petrol, CNG and LPG vehicles and hybrids of all types. In practice, this means going against the principle of technological neutrality defended to the maximum by the European Union.”

While Spanish car manufacturers may certainly be upset about this, the phrase ”technological neutrality” may send warning flags of a broader, potentially Europe-wide action.

Technological neutrality is an EU-wide concept that is broadly defined as allowing users to choose the best products to suit their needs without interference. We would perhaps be most familiar with technological neutrality when it comes to the internet and telecoms products, like our mobile phones. In 1999 this area is where the EU applied the regulatory principle for the first time. The concept would later underpin the Net Neutrality principle we continue to explore and, indeed, debate.

However, since the EU first seriously contemplated banning diesel vehicles and other high emitters in favor of greener electric vehicles, the car industry has sought to establish that this would mean the EU breaking its own rules on technological neutrality. That’s a novel interpretation of the principle, but it suggests that manufacturers may be exploring legal avenues to fight back against fuel restrictions. Were it to do so, Spain would be a good test case, as it is the second largest car manufacturer in Europe after Germany. This, therefore, may be something to keep an eye on.

What’s next for Spain’s ambitious plans?

As noted above, details released this past week are just preliminary. Spain’s lawmakers should receive the first draft of the bill by the end of the year, but the government is keen to make this a collaborative effort. It will need to be, as the government has only a slim majority and will need other parties to help push through its plans. This likely means poring over the legislation for many months yet, and it could become a battleground for special interest groups. However, per EU deadlines, Spain will have to have things finalized by December of 2019, so the clock is ticking.

It will be interesting to see the development of Spain’s efforts to reshape its energy and transport sectors, and this should serve as a wake-up call to other nations in the EU, many of whom have so far made only small pledges. As Spain’s example shows, this is literally a fight for the future, and it’s time to step up.

Photo credit: Getty Images.


John W
John W2 months ago


Mely Lu
Mely Lu2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

Shae L
Shae Lee2 months ago

Thanks for sharing!

Celine R
Celine Russo2 months ago

Can't the car industry find a new product to build for this greener future? Help with public transport for example?

heather g
heather g2 months ago

It's always heartening to read about positive goals - I wish Canada and the USA cared about the air we have to breathe

Irene S
Irene S3 months ago

Good plan! Probably a bit too late?

Thomas M
Past Member 3 months ago

thank you

Henry M
Henry M3 months ago

Technological neutrality can't be relied on to prevent pollution, an externality that does not impact the device's user.

hELEN hEARFIELD3 months ago