You may have seen various articles in the Spanish press recently about the current drought that Spain is experiencing. Although periods of drought are relatively common in Spain, this September was the driest this century. As the lack of rain has continued into Autumn, we have seen devastating wild fires in the north and speed limits put in place around Madrid to try and reduce the pollution affecting the city.
However, the drought this year has also had another, possibly for many people unexpected, effect. It has caused an increase in the cost of electricity. According to laSexta Noticias, this Summer our electricity bills have been 6.5% more expensive than last Summer, which works out around 68 Euros more per household for the first six months of 2017 than for the first six months of 2016.
The reason for this cost increase is that in 2017 hydroelectricity has only met about 10% of the total electricity demand in Spain compared with 20% for the same period in 2016. Usually a cheap source of power, the lower amount of hydroelectricity being generated is affecting prices in the market.
When it rains, the power companies have to switch on turbines to protect the dams around the reservoirs from being breached and this movement of water generates a cheap source of power. However, when there is no rain and the water levels in the reservoirs are low, the power companies can choose when to activate the turbines and various sources allege that the time when they choose to do this is when electricity prices are at their highest. In the meantime, our electricity must come from other more expensive sources.
What can you do as a consumer? Well, it is always important to be careful with your water usage and not waste this precious resource. Here are some handy tips to follow:
- Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth
- Always use full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher
- Take a shorter shower
- Fix a dripping tap
As last month’s article highlighted, you can also make use of another renewable energy source, the sun, to generate your own free electricity and heat your water to lower your electricity bills. Lack of rain means there has been more sunshine which is great for generating solar energy, but solar panels still work on cloudy days too if we do get that longed-for rain.