Tourism as a barrier to energy savings on Spanish islands

by Lorraine Williamson
energy savings

MADRID – Tourism prevents the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands from saving energy like the rest of Spain. The islands need a “process of adaptation to the new energy reality”, says the Minister of Ecological Transition. 

According to Teresa Ribera, electricity demand in Spain has decreased by 3.7% “after the entry into force of the energy saving plan”. During the press conference, the minister emphasised how the high tourist activity in Spain has prevented energy consumption from falling. 

The lowest decline was seen in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. That is why Minister Ribera linked tourist saturation on these islands to higher energy consumption. 

Energy savings are lower due to high tourist occupancy 

From 8 to 14 August, energy consumption in Spain decreased compared to the week before. Despite Spain’s pledge to cut electricity demand by 7%, the government qualifies the 3.7% cut as good when taking into account the heatwaves and high occupancy in tourism. 

Hard to draw conclusions 

Ribera noted that if the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands had been removed from the equation, the savings would have been greater, 3.9%. Still, the minister showed caution regarding the data, claiming it is difficult to draw conclusions based on just a week’s worth of results. 

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Difference Between Archipelago 

However, based on the tourist logic, the Canary Islands have a more complex situation to save energy compared to the Balearic Islands and the peninsula itself. The Balearic Islands are now blaming mass tourism in the summer for the lack of energy savings. 

The tourist occupation in the Canary Islands is very high all year round, with a constant influx of visitors. Variable factors such as weather or season do not greatly affect the flow of travellers to the archipelago, so the margin for reducing traveller energy consumption is moderate. 

Special Commissioner 

Regarding the negative data from the Balearic and Canary Islands — compared to the rest of Spain — Ribera stressed that the archipelagos “need a process of adapting to the new energy reality”. She appreciated the existence of a commissioner who is solely responsible for ensuring that both island communities succeed in using 100% renewable energy for the foreseeable future. 

Also read: Energy saving measures

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