Spain is trying to a find means to stabilise its CO2 emissions. This may allow for larger investments in alternative energy sources. The Department for Environment and Housing is drawing up guidelines for the incorporation of alternative energies. The Institute for Diversification and Reduction of Energy will be reorganised to help small and medium sized companies cut back on power expenditure.

In the wake of the collapse of the European energy tax initiative, Spain is fielding alternative solutions to combat CO2 pollution, including new incentives for alternative energy production that are likely to give wind power a boost. A new electricity bill in the last stages of parliamentary debate is also likely to encourage wind power.

The new legislative proposals follow the release of a climate change report, drawn up in line with the UN 1993 Convention on Climatic Change, which paints a particularly alarming future for Spain. Increased desertification, drop in rainfall, changes in tide patterns, hikes in sea levels and modification of the coastline are forecast by the report for the year 2050. In presenting it early last month, Cristina Narbona, the Secretary of State for Environment and Housing, said her department was drawing up guidelines for the conversion of bus fleets to eco-fuels, the construction of bicycle lanes in major cities and reforestation plans.

Other measures forwarded by her department include plans to incorporate into a draft bill on housing construction directives economic initiatives to encourage the use of alternative energy sources and energy saving schemes, including wind and solar power. Also tabled was a decision to stabilise CO2 emissions despite a wide margin allowed Spain by the European Union (EU) to match the targets of major C02 polluters, like Denmark, Luxembourg, Germany and Holland by the year 2000.

Under the National Energy Plan (PEN), Spain had envisioned increasing its C02 emissions -- estimated at 7.4 % of the EU total -- by a maximum 25% by the year 2000 to allow the country to compete industrially with the more advanced EU nations. This is significant for the wind power industry in so much as it will force a reduction in traditional forms of energy production, allowing for greater investment in alternative sources. At the same time, the directives regarding housing will encourage construction companies to incorporate alternative power generating systems in housing estates, until now based exclusively, with few exceptions, on traditional forms of power production.

It was also announced that the Institute for the Diversification and Reduction of Energy, the state body charged with researching and developing alternative energy, will be revamped to help small and medium sized companies cut back on power expenditure.

The new power bill, to become law within the coming months, proposes significant changes to the current system which are bound to encourage development of wind farms by breaking the hold big companies have on the energy market. Changes include allowing open access to the energy market and the separation of power generation and power distribution. The bill has been welcomed by the wind industry in Spain which all too often saw its efforts to connect to the grid opposed by the utilities -- despite laws guaranteeing access.