Eduardo Montes

President of UNESA

“Supply security, competitiveness and cost, and respect for the environment are the three key issues”

What strategies should be promoted by Spain in order to achieve a less dependent energy model?

The issue that we should be talking about isn’t dependence. Instead, we should be talking about three other fundamental factors: supply security (which is primary), competitiveness and cost, and respect for the environment. These are the three key issues, and not energy independence; no one has total independence.

What weight should renewable energies have in our energy mix?

From an environmental perspective, Spain’s energy mix is one of the best in the European Union. The big secret to renewable energies in their traditional forms—wind, photovoltaic, thermosolar, and so on—lies in introducing them at the right time. What we mustn’t do as part of our national strategy is introduce any particular energy source—such as photovoltaic—when no one was producing it and at prices that have since fallen tenfold. That was a big mistake. It does fulfill environmental aims, but it also works against competitiveness.

How would the creation of the single energy market affect Spain?

There can be no economic or political union in Europe, with similar banking and tax systems, if there is no common energy system. The effects would be very positive for Spain, and Europe is actually making very significant progress in this direction.

What level of interconnection does Spain need to have with France and Europe?

Between 10 and 15 percent of installed capacity at a minimum. The latest interconnection takes us up to about 4 or 5 percent, which represents a doubling of our capacity with France, but the idea is to continue increasing this capacity in the coming years. The Plan Junker on investment in interconnection infrastructure is designed to help us reach 10 or 15 percent, which is the level that would make the single European electricity market feasible.

What are the possible solutions to differences in energy costs?

It’s not so much the difference in prices compared to the United States. We are much cheaper than places like Japan, and we’re not more expensive than China. Is Europe competitive, in general? Siemens, for example, ranks among the top two or three most competitive companies in the world. The problem is between European countries. Here, when it comes to Spain, the national pricing structure has led us to a ridiculous situation in which even though we have one of the cheapest electricity systems in Europe— and by electricity system I mean generation, transport, distribution, and sale—we have ended up with one of the most expensive tax systems in Europe. Between 25 and 30 percent of our bills can be attributed to energy policy, which has absolutely nothing to do with the electricity system. In other words, some 45 percent of consumers’ bills is related to the electricity system, and 55 percent depends on other concepts.

Does the electricity market need increased liberalization and competition?

As in the telecommunications sector, the market needs to be completely liberalized as soon as possible. Without a doubt, we are for total liberalization.