Archive for the ‘Transportation & Infrastructure’ category

Spanish Government approves a sustainable economy fund of 20 billion euros

May 16, 2009

Spain announced on Tuesday a 20 billion euros (27 billion dollars) fund to finance sustainable development projects plus a new local investment fund with €5 billion  ($6.7 billion) of credit for local environmental works, and technological and social projects.

The state credit agency Instituto Credito Oficial would manage the fund, which would be operational from 2010, the government said in a statement.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told the lower house of Parliament it would finance “renewable energy, restoration of buildings, non-polluting transport  and recycling”.

Green busAn example included in the package of measures is a subsidy for the renewal of non-contaminating and low consumption buses. Buses more than 10 years old will be replaced by new ones.

The government will therefore support the purchase of up to 2000 new buses. Companies will also be encouraged to provide their workers with bus passes which will result in a reduction of 24% in the cost of transportation.

Zapatero announced plans to help improve technology in schools with the purchase of 420,000 laptop computers for classrooms, wi-fi internet connection in schools, the installation of digital blackboards and training for teachers in the best use of technology for educational purposes.

Another measure announced in this package is the cut in taxes for small businesses that forgo layoffs. The tax cut would be applicable to companies with fewer than 25 employees and an annual turnover of less than 5 million euros ($6.8 million).

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Spain and the US to cooperate in renewable energy and energy efficiency issues

March 23, 2009

During a visit to the US last week, the Spanish Minister of Industry, Tourism and Trade, Miguel Sebastián, held a meeting in Washington with the Energy Secretary, Steven Chu. During the meeting, both discussed various aspects related to energy dependence, security of supply, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

One of the topics discussed was the mutual interest in developing the Energy Services Companies, or ESCOs, industry. The U.S. government is actively promoting this industry and wants it to play an even more important role in energy efficiency. In addition, Miguel Sebastián detailed the plans in place for the adoption of electric vehicles in Spain, a mode of transportation also backed by President Obama, who has set a  goal of having a million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015.  Spain maintained its commitment to put in circulation a million electric cars by 2014.

Sebastian stressed the Spanish position in the global market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) a fuel which requires no pipelines connecting producer and consumer. Spain currently receives two thirds of its natural gas supplies through LNG tankers, as a way to diversify its sources of supply.

Mnister Sebastian and Secretary Chu

For his part, U.S. Secretary of Energy showed interest in the methods of CO2 sequestration and storage that are being used in Spain. In this sense, the Spanish minister elaborated about the projects implemented in the country, such as the pilot plant to be built in Compostilla (Leon).

At the same time, Sebastian conveyed to the U.S. secretary the willingness of Spain to cooperate and reach agreements with the U.S. on renewable energy issues and to help the stability of energy supply, a cooperation that would benefit both countries. Spain already has standing agreements of this sort with Russia, Morocco and Algeria. Finally, the Spanish Minister proposed the creation of a permanent working group to explore and identify areas of energy cooperation that will be launched in the coming months.

This group will exchange experiences in three key energy areas: solar, electric vehicles and biofuels. The Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate Stephen Chu, received this proposal favorably. Finally, the Spanish Minister cordially invited his U.S. counterpart to visit Spain to see for himself some of the landmark projects developed in Spain, such as the  plants in operation using pioneering solar thermal energy storage methods.

8.5 MW Solar installation for SEAT´s car factory

February 2, 2008

19537.jpgSEAT’s factory in Martorell has been chosen by the Spanish Automaker (part of the Volkswagen Group) as the location for one of its most ambitious environmental conservation projects, where the installation of solar panels will make it possible to generate clean electrical energy. This move is the last in a trend of companies realizing that solar power may be both environmental and economically sound.

By installing 8.5 MW of solar photovoltaic panels, the system will generate 11.2 GWh of electricity annually by the end of this year.

The solar panels will be in place on the roof of SEAT’s corporate building in Martorell (Catalonia, Spain) next March, as well as on the support structure of one of the finished vehicle parking lots. All the clean energy created will get redirected towards the power mains for distribution. With the new systems in place, the company will be able to satisfy the plant´s huge demand of energy (1.3 million Kw/h).

In order to take full advantage of one of Spain’s greatest resource, the Sun, and the high number of sunlight hours in the area of Martorell and its surroundings, the next step will be to completely cover two further distribution areas with a total surface area of more than 66,000 m2 and the roofs of assembly buildings 8, 9, 10 and 11, which will add an additional 139,000 m2.

This phase will total more than 206,000 m2 of solar panels to produce solar energy.

Spain and Portugal sign Green car partnership

January 22, 2008

During a recent bilateral meeting for the groundbreaking of a cutting-edge cooperation project, the future INL (International Iberian Nanotechnology Center), Portugal and Spain also made an announcement concerning the automotive industry.

The two countries want to create the first green car in the Iberian peninsula, hoping to generate 150 million euros worth of investment and 800 new jobs in the region’s motor industry.

Spanish Minister for Industry Joan Clos said that the goal was to build an alternative to the high-polluting vehicles currently on the roads of Spain and Portugal.

“We want to create the technology that will allow us to consume the least amount of gasoline possible,” said Clos. “At this point there are high expectations (for the green car).”

Experts say oil prices close to $100 a barrel make it more attractive to invest in cars that can run on electricity or hydrogen fuel cells.

green-car.jpg The Mobi-green car, as the vehicle is named, is being developed by two automotive research centers in Portugal (CEIIA) and Spain (CTAG) using funds from both the public and private sectors.

The head of Portugal‘s CEIIA research center, Braz Costa, said he hoped to produce a prototype by the end of the year. He said the car’s engine was likely to run on hydrogen fuel cells but an electric engine remained an option.

“Our goal is to create an environmentally friendly car that can be produced with technology from Portugal and Spain,” Costa told Reuters.

We are involving the private sector to take on the challenge of producing the car in the long-run and sell it to consumers,” he said. Costa said demand for green cars would rise as pressure to cut carbon dioxide emissions mounted on governments around the world.

“There is a paradigm shift. There are drastic changes taking place in the economy and the way we view transportation,” said Braz Costa. “When governments decide to charge an environment tax on high-polluting vehicles we are certain drivers will start looking for alternative ways of transportation.”

Speed limits in Barcelona lowered to reduce pollution

July 12, 2007

Via “The Autoblog Green” – Xavier Navarro (Source: El Periodico)

 

l’eixample (Neighborhood in Barcelona)  Originally uploaded by Fuxxión

In order to fight carbon emissions and get closer to the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, the Catalan Ministry of Environmental Protection (Spain) has enacted a decree that will reduce the maximum speed for cars in the Barcelona metropolitan area from 120 to 80 km/h (75 to 50 mph). The law also sets for a recommendation of a maximum speed of 90 km/h (55 mph) in the so-called “second road ring” of the city metropolitan area. In order to implement this law, all the administrations (national, regional and local) will have to change the road signs as well as tune the speed cameras and radars next fall.

This measure resembles the strict 55-mph limits that the US implemented after the 1973 Oil Crisis, but the focus of this bill is more centered in clean air than in savings. Current NOx and particullate EU standards are 40 micrograms per cubic meter but, at times, current levels exceed 50. In Spain, transport is responsible of 40 to 52 percent of air pollution, affirms the Spanish Industry Ministry. The estimates are that lowering the speed limit from 120 to 80 km/h will reduce air pollution by 30 percent.

Other measures that the Catalan government will implement along with this speed reduction are: mobility plans for all companies with more than 500 workers (such as free chartered buses), using energy efficient machinery in ports and airports and the substitution of public vehicles with hybrids, CNG or at least biofuels.

Bike crazy in Barcelona

July 1, 2007

bicis2.jpg

Bicycle Docking Station in Barcelona – Courtesy of Bicing

When a new transportation system, involving bikes, was inaugurated some months ago in Barcelona, there were some doubts about the outlook for this option. Nevertheless, the response has exceeded expectations. The system, that goes by the name of “Bicing“, has become extremely popular, with 50,000 users registered so far in the first 3 months (most updated figures).

To be able to use one of the bikes, a user must first register an account online. The first 30 minutes of bike use are free After 2 hours the bike must be taken back to a parking slot in one of the stations around the city, normally connecting to train and bus stations. 

The success of this system shows that people really are willing to use the bikes, so long as they are easily available (there are soon going to be a thousand five hundred bikes in service and 100 stations in Barcelona) .

Considering the high cost of gas,  there are many cities in the United States with moderate weather and a bustling downtown area where this system might be a good idea. (See AutoblogGreen) Some more bike routes would certainly be needed, but this option would tackle several problems at once (getting to do some exercise would of course be one of them)   

Stay on Track to Help The Environment While Vacationing in Europe This Summer

June 26, 2007

SOURCE: Eurail Group G.I.E. — Carbon dioxide emissions from cars and planes play a huge role in air pollution and global warming.  In Europe, taking the train instead of renting a car or jetting around on low cost airlines is a sure-fire way to lessen the environmental impact of travel.

“If you’re concerned about contributing to global climate change, remember that rail is always a better option than flying”, advises Mr. Ian Byrne, Deputy Director of the National Energy Foundation, based in the UK .

The Eurail network that covers most of Europe with its wide range of flexible and affordable rail passes makes it easy to travel “green.” The average Eurail Global Pass Passenger, for example, travels more than 4,000 miles while using the pass. Trains covering that distance emit 0.3 tons of CO2, while cars and planes put out more than a ton of CO2. Travelers can calculate their personal emissions on the website of the US Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html.

Aside from the environmental benefits, taking the train can make the journey as enjoyable as the destination. Europe’s fast, sleek trains go efficiently from downtown to downtown with a minimal use of land compared to most US highway systems. Since there is little urban sprawl, passengers enjoy a window seat on passing views of fairy tale castles, forested hillsides, sleepy villages and bustling towns. What’s more, trains rarely encounter mechanical or weather delays, and none of the frequent congestion that can not only stall traffic in the air and on the ground, but also further waste fuel and increase greenhouse gases. It just makes sense to take the train whenever possible.renfe-4.jpg

 High-speed train whizzying accross the Spanish countryside  – Picture courtesy of RENFE

Eurail offers a range of flexible and affordable rail passes. The classic Eurail Global Pass covers 18 countries and gives travelers the freedom to travel as far as they want, when they want, as long as they want.

For more information about Eurail see www.EurailGroup.com. To purchase, go to www.Eurail.com or one of Eurail’s authorized North American sales agents: ACP Rail International (eurail-acprail.com); Flight Centre (flightcentre.com) and Rail Europe (www.raileurope.com).

Eurail Countries: Austria, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain (1), Sweden and Switzerland.

(1) The Spanish railway company is RENFE. See their timetables here