12 JUNIO 2020

“Let's prepare for the ultimate oil slump”

la caída definitiva del petroleo - Articulo de opinión
OP-ED ARTICLE - UNIVERGY SOLAR | By Elmar Montero Cárceles, engineer at Univergy Solar

The pandemic can be seen as a jolt to wake up those who do not yet believe in the ultimate oil slump in the world.

Work activity in Spain has undergone a drastic change during the months of confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic, a situation which has caught many people off guard by its rapid transmission allowing it to rise to the category of a global pandemic. This event may end up being a temporary anecdote. The question which now arises is the following; are we prepared for a possible structural oil crisis that was foreseeable since the day it became the main source of energy?

On March 4, the EU Commission established a framework for achieving climate neutrality and, on May 19, the Government of our country proposed a draft Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition as a transposition law. To that end, it is encouraging to find measures such as the ban on oil-based combustion vehicles, breaking away from State participation in processes related to fossil-fuel procurement (Hunosa), and the promotion of renewable energy with the idea of achieving a faster recovery from the pandemic disruption.

Pablo Otín, manager of Powertis, commented at a UNEF seminar that something was being done well in Spain, because more than 100 GWs have been requested and the best companies in the sector were brought in, including, Univergy Solar, a company engaged in solar energy projects. These facts would position us in the top 5 firms of the world ranking.

However, as Pablo Otín mentioned, there are other issues that could cause us to descend in this ranking in relation to the quality of these connections to the grid: What will be developed? What level of transparency is there in the process of connecting to the power grid for the common good? And finally; are there clear barriers between the various stakeholders? That is, do the companies operating the distribution system also have their own development companies and is the competition open and transparent? The situation in Spain is very uncommon; at a time when technology is changing radically, we have had the same regulations for many years without significant reforms. By contrast, regulations are constantly being reviewed in countries such as Portugal, France, Italy, the UK, the USA, etc.

Confinement due to COVID-19 has destroyed, in general and on a temporary basis, numerous forms of businesses (clothing stores, events, hotels, cinema…) and has hit the industry to a large extent, including the oil sector.

All things considered, we could return to normal on a gradual basis. However, there is still the danger that a major raw material and main source of energy in our country, and in the world, will change its business environment as soon as it becomes less profitable in relation to renewable energy. The oligopoly involved in oil can change the rules quickly, shutting down the tap for the majority, and allocating its investments to different activities; all of which would lead to a crisis of unprecedented proportions for those non-producing countries which dependent almost totally on this fuel.

Now it is time for us to do our Monday duties on Sunday at 8 p.m. because, to a large extent, conservative governments have done just the opposite during the development years, leaving us, a priori, a model to follow thanks to the climatic and geographical characteristics of our country. Now is the time for the various organizations, public representatives and society’s own concern to cooperate together to reform regulations and create new measures for the implementation of solar and wind energy, beyond the mere promotion of the same.

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