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The future of transport in Spain

Renewable energies are changing the way we drive. In the struggle against harmful emissions and climate change, there are three key dates for the future of mobility in Spain: 2030, 2040 and 2050. Will Spain be able to achieve what is needed, in time to avert a catastrophe?

Mobility in the city of the future

Scenario 1: 2030

The first step in the plan is this: we must begin to combat the greenhouse effect.

The aim is to significantly reduce emissions of so-called greenhouse gases. In concrete terms: by 2030, Spain needs to emit 40% less greenhouse gas than it did in 1990.

How can we achieve this? There are various mutually complimentary options and, as is widely known every little helps, but one of the solutions being most widely employed is restricting traffic in town centres Madrid now has the "Madrid Central" zone: a low-emissions zone spanning 472 hectares.

The automotive industry is one of the hardest hit by the implementation of these measures. The ever-growing diesel restrictions have led to a decline in its use, and consequently, the automobile industry is making efforts to bring to market a range of vehicles that, as far as possible, avoid the use of fossil fuels.

In addition, we are seeing the emergence of a new way of life: carsharing, which is beginning to make alter the way that Spaniards think. In larger cities, it is now eminently possible to drive on a regular basis without owning your own vehicle.

To help users transition to a new vehicle and leave harmful emissions in the rear-view mirror, Spain has adopted the Plan VEA (VEA = Alternative Energy Vehicles); the plan is a sort of offshoot of the Plan PIVE (Efficient Vehicle Incentive Plan), whose implementation has been stalled by the delay in passing the national budget. This plan, if it comes to pass, will make €16.6m available to promote sales of electric, hybrid and gas-powered vehicles using fuels such as LPG, CNG and LNG.


Scenario 2: 2040

From localised restrictions, we should be moving on to major-scale bans on traffic, as per the goal set for 2040 by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition. In theory, by 2040, we should see the prohibition of sale and registration of commercial vehicles with direct CO2 emissions.

In order for this broad ban to be applicable, the projections will need to come true, whereby in 2040, technology will have advanced and we will have multiple options available to us, facilitating a world in which electric cars will be the natural first choice for consumers.

“According to current projections, 2040 will see the banning of all CO2-emitting commercial vehicles.”

Scenario 3: 2050

Thus we come to what is a crucial date: a point of no return that many consider to be Utopian, and others think is overly conservative. The prediction for 2050 says that no cars emitting pollutants should be on the road in Spain, with the country’s fleet of vehicles being completely overhauled.

If this is achieved, pollutant emissions will have dropped 90% in relation to their levels in 1990.

Another of the objectives for 2050 is that all electrical power generation be based exclusively on renewable sources.


Are we, in Spain, capable of meeting these deadlines?

The objectives have been lain down, and they are ambitious. The question is whether our resources will be sufficient to achieve them. There are two major stumbling blocks that are highly relevant in examining this matter:

1. Shortage of electric vehicle charging stations: at present, Spain has some 3800 electric vehicle charging points (spread between shopping centres, dealerships, municipal car parks, public car parks, hotels, train stations, etc.). According to data from the European Commission, Spain will need 220,000 charging points by 2030, assuming that the target of a 30% reduction in emissions is passed into law. In the event that the target is increased to a 40% reduction, we will need no fewer than 300,000 charging points. In this respect, the most ambitious plan put forward to date was devised by Endesa X, which aims to install 108,500 charging points within the space of five years.

2. Lack of muscle to manufacture electric car batteries: if Spain truly wants to become a major producer of electric vehicles, we also need to become a major producer of batteries for those vehicles. Otherwise, we will be entirely dependent upon imports, and our production will be seriously limited.

“According to predictions, by 2050, not a single pollutant-emitting vehicle will remain on Spain's roads, and all electricity will be generated from renewable sources.”

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