Influential and interesting in 2018 -- Teresa Ribera

Minister for ecological transition, Spain

(pic: Pool Moncloa/César P Sendra)

Pushing Spain back to renewables with economic fairness

On taking office in June this year, Spain’s first female energy minister promised to rise to the challenge of installing 6-7GW of new renewables capacity annually to 2030.

Since then, hopes of a revival for Spain’s once roaring wind market have been high.

Ribera’s left-wing Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) took office following a vote of censure, ousting the conservative People’s Party (PP) that had been in government since 2011.

The PP had brought the country’s wind development to a grinding halt.

The PSOE immediately announced its intention to combine the energy and environment portfolios into a single ministry of ecological transition.

And for Ribera to draft an energy route map for Spain under the title "a fair energy transition", not yet published, but which commits to a 100% carbon-free electricity mix by 2050.

Testimony to the importance she pays to "fairness" in the energy transition lies in her accord with Spain’s usually intransigent miners’ union.

In return for accepting the closure of most mines nationwide, the accord offers the miners early retirement packages and €250 million local-development investment across their communities.

Ribera’s work has already won her the 2018 Climate Reality Project Award, founded by former US vice president Al Gore, in the public personality category.

The fly in the ointment is the PSOE’s wafer-thin majority and dependency on coalition, together with its limited two-year term. The final outcome of Ribera’s efforts therefore remain to be seen.