Shop windows must not be illuminated after 10pm. / salvador salas

Will Spain's new energy-saving measures reduce electricity consumption?

When the first Spanish government restrictions came into effect, demand peaked at 1,322 megawatts in Malaga, slightly higher than the day before

FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ Malaga

It is still too soon to tell whether the energy-saving measures the government put into effect this week will have any significant effect, but at present they do not seem to be making much difference in Malaga.

The restrictions on air conditioning temperatures and the use of illumination in public buildings and shops began on Wednesday, but initial figures show that the demand for electricity in the country as a whole on the first day was even higher than on Tuesday, albeit 5% lower than the previous Wednesday. In Malaga, it was higher than on both of those days.

According to Endesa, electricity consumption in Malaga on Wednesday 10 August reached a peak of 1,332.13 megawatts compared to 1,316.34 megawatts the previous day.

A year earlier, on Wednesday 11 August, the peak was 1,233.23 megawatts and the day before it was 1,193.05. To give an idea, the record demand in the province was on 8 January 2009 when it reached 1,471.29 megawatts, but that was nothing to do with air conditioning or tourism – it was because the weather was unusually cold.

Too many variables to tell

In any case, the figure for the first day of the new energy saving measures is not really significant because many variables can affect consumption, such as tourism and energy consumption in private households. Nor does the data distinguish between residential, commercial and industrial use of electricity, so if domestic consumption increases because of the hot weather it can offset the hypothetical reduction in consumption in public buildings, shops, restaurants, cultural venues etc by limiting the air conditioning temperature and switching lights off at 10pm.

Endesa says it will take a few weeks to know whether the measures have had much effect.

Like other EU states, the energy saving measures aim to reduce gas consumption by 5% to minimise the economic and social impact if Russia eventually cuts off the supply. A large part of the electricity consumed in Spain is generated in combined cycle stations.