Rafael Gutiérrez Mingo
Political analyst Artículo 30
The National Security Strategy has just been published, with the National Security Council as the body responsible for drafting it, with the participation of different ministries, as well as the National Intelligence Centre (CNI). One of the main risks and threats discussed in the document is energy vulnerability. The dominion and control of natural resources provides economic and political power to the possessor in question, and vulnerability to those who lack them. This is the case of Spain.
We have witnessed how Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates gained significant international weight and became the main exporters of hydrocarbons at the global level. A large number of states and economies depended on their exports. Spain is precisely one of them. In 2019 (prior to the pandemic), the degree of energy dependence of our country was practically 75%. This means that we imported three quarters of the energy consumed. In other words, barely a quarter of energy demand is met by domestic production.
This has serious consequences and should be high on our external agenda. Firstly, the energy cost of imports is immense. Secondly, dependence on other countries generates alterations in energy supply, as this does not depend on Spain; in this sense, maritime routes take on a leading role with enormous consequences. Thirdly, it has serious economic effects, since dependence on foreign countries means that the economy suffers constantly from fluctuations in the price of energy, which can lead to a deficit in the national trade balance; to this must be added the regulation of markets in Europe, an issue that is always under constant debate.
Finally, both our international influence and our influence abroad are very limited, as our room for manoeuvre is very limited. Madrid will not be able to acquire a certain international standing without energy self-sufficiency and greater access to and control of natural resources.
The percentage of energy dependence must be significantly minimised. This is undoubtedly one of the most important challenges we face and is mentioned in the recently published National Security Strategy. Moreover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts a 30% increase in energy demand by 2040, which challenges the prevailing climate change narrative.
Spain has great potential for renewable energy development thanks to its climate.
The other alternative Spain needs to focus on is nuclear energy, a politically taboo subject but one that should certainly be considered. However, it has officially announced that it will abandon the use of nuclear energy in 2035. At the other end of the spectrum is France, the only EU member state with a nuclear military arsenal. France bases 70% of its energy production on nuclear power and recently, President Macron announced the construction of new nuclear power plants.
Nuclear energy is very low in pollution and is therefore clean energy. At the same time, it guarantees the energy supply, as its production is constant and remains active all year round. In addition, its price is usually stable, so it avoids the price peaks of other sources. Likewise, this type of energy has great power, being able to generate large amounts of energy in a single plant.
In conclusion, although dependence on hydrocarbons from abroad will continue to be a factor of vulnerability in the coming years, the transition towards a new economically sustainable energy model is the main challenge facing a key sector for the economy and security. Spain is at a turning point and needs to reformulate a realistic policy that addresses its high foreign energy dependence and takes into account the different financial, economic, diplomatic and military aspects, as this undoubtedly limits its economic growth, political power, influence and weight abroad.
© This is a translation of the article published in A30 / All rights reserved