The grave repercussions which the oil-shock of 1973 had on the Spanish economy (repeated in the early 1980s) eventually persuaded the government to introduce an energy plan in order to reduce the country's dependence on imported oil. Despite an oil-substitution policy Spain still depends on oil for over 50 percent of its primary energy needs (or two-thirds of final energy consumption). Increasing use is being made of natural gas (replacing town gas), although this also has to be imported, mostly from Algeria. Just under 20 percent of the primary energy consumption is derived from coal, but Spanish coal is both expensive to mine and highly polluting. Four-fifths of the coal mined is directly consumed by the steel and cement industries. Nuclear power accounts for a little over 15 percent of primary energy consumption (see also nuclear energy), while hydraulic power and windgenerated power together account for some 5 percent. In terms of electricity production (as distinct from primary energy consumption), thermal electricity (from coal, oil and gas-fired power stations) accounts for almost half of all electricity generated, nuclear for just over onethird, hydroelectricity for about 15 percent, and other renewable resources for less than 2 percent. Because of rainfall variations, hydraulically produced electricity can undergo wide fluctuations. The fourth National Energy Plan, 1991–2000, seeks an improvement in energy savings, a diversification of supplies, better use of domestic (including renewable) resources, and improved environmental protection. Dependence on external energy sources has not changed, nor is likely to change, very significantly. The electricity supply industry is dominated by two very large companies, Endesa and Iberdrola, each of which consists of a number of regional subsidiaries. There are in addition a number of smaller independent companies, while the high tension national grid is run by Redesa. The main gas supply company is Gas Natural, which supplies 90 percent of the market, while the distribution of oil products is dominated by Repsol, now under increasing competition from BP, Elf, Shell and other foreign multinationals.
   Further reading
   - Salmon, K. (1995) The Modern Spanish Economy. Transformation and Integration into Europe, London: Pinter (chapter 5 offers a full account of the energy sector).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.


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