A project to create the first solar power station in Catalunya has been given the green light (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The company behind the plan, Comsa Emte i Abantia, announced back in December 2009 its interest in constructing the plant in Borges Blanques, with an initial investment of €150 million and a power level of 22.5 MW. However, despite this plan, and having received all the necessary administrative authorisations, last autumn the company said it was reviewing the project to see if it was still viable as a result of difficulties in obtaining bank credit. The new regulation regarding subsidies agreed between the energy sector and the Spanish government last summer, which threatens short-term profits, also cast a shadow over the idea, but in the end, the company has decided to move ahead with its plans. Comsa confirmed to Avui that the project will be implemented without substantial modifications, with work due to start as soon as possible, because it has to have the plant working before December 31st, 2012, according to the terms of its permit received from the Spanish Ministry of Industry.
The new anti-smoking law will see twice the number of people quitting the habit in 2011 compared to previous years (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Although it is too early to make firm calculations about the reduction in illnesses and the number of lives saved as a result of the amended legislation, health experts have estimated that this year, some 400,000 people will give up smoking compared to the 200,000 that have annually managed to quit in the past. Since the law came into force on January 1st, seeing a ban on smoking in many public places including cafés and restaurants, there has been an increase of between 10 and 15 percent in queries regarding stopping smoking, according to health sources and calculations by the GP association SemFYC, amongst others. According to a spokesperson from the association of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery, the most positive effect of the law will be a reduction of more than 30 percent in failed attempts by people trying to give up who end up returning to the habit.
The Spanish minister of public works, José Blanco, had to make a clarifying statement yesterday regarding the government's new policy regarding lighting on some of the nation's roads (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Blanco had previously made an announcement about making savings of 50 percent of the money currently spent on lighting Spanish roads, provoking criticisms for the plan. Speaking on the radio station Cadena Ser, Blancó insisted that his intention is to maintain the lighting on roads and that his cost-cutting efforts will be pointed in other directions, for instance in reducing tunnels "which is where most of the energy is consumed, 40 percent of the lighting spend on [Spanish] highways." He calculated that savings of 35 to 40 percent could be made in tunnel lighting by replacing them with LED lights, and that energy could be generated from lights by installing solar panels on them, as well as on public buildings where there's space. Blanco also defended the government's decision to reduce the speed limit on some of the Spanish roads, saying it was a measure taken in the face of recent rises in the cost of petrol, which could have negative implications for the recovery of the Spanish economy.