Decarbonising the electricity grid is an important step towards helping to at least mitigate the worst effects of climate change, I won't say to save the planet but we may be able to make things a little less worse in the future. One of the main steps we can take is by moving to more renewables in our use of electricity and in Spain we are moving forward quickly, much more than most other countries. Spain has an abundance of renewable power sources of course with the main ones being solar (of course) hydro and wind but as you can see below there's a wide mix of sources.
When you are travelling through the country you see wind and solar farms all over, feeding the grid, and on some days supplying close to 100% of Spain's daily requirements. It has been a long time coming, but it's a reality now. Last year over 50% of Spain's electricity generation was from renewables for the first time ever and it's growing fast.
As I said, on some days, usually windy ones, we get close to 100%. And when it gets close, Tom will let you know on Threads or Twitter (Yes it's called Twitter)
Today therefore we are going to look at the steps you as an individual or family can take here to make your life greener and what we have done as an example here in Valencia. What does it mean for both day to day costs, savings and lifestyle. A lot of these things are easier to do if you have a house as opposed to an apartment; solar panels, car chargers etc... but your choice of electricity supplier can be just as important. Let's look at the steps you can take to become more green and at the same time electrify your life in Valencia, Europe's Green Capital for 2024.
Valencia - European Green Capital 2024
Valencia was named Europe's Green Capital for 2024 a couple of years ago due to its commitment to sustainable goals and tourism. Things changed though and it's a little bit embarrassing now as the new Government is considerably less focussed on sustainability than the previous one. However they were tied into doing the things that were promised when Valencia applied for the role, essentially they couldn't get out of the previous commitments. You can read more about Valencia being Europe's Green Capital here.
One of the best things an individual can do to reduce their carbon footprint is to ditch the car and use public transport. Luckily Valencia's public transport system is excellent and last year the local and regional administrations made a huge step forward by essentially making public transport free for under 35s and pensioners and reducing the prices for everybody else. They also regularly have free days to encourage usage of the public transport systems in place; bus, metro and train.
This was complemented by subsidies from central government for commuters who could travel free on Renfe and some coach services intercity if they were doing the journey regularly. As a result of these measures public transport use soared and the number of car journeys in Valencia went down greatly thus reducing pollution on the main roads in and out of the city.
As you move through Valencia you will notice that there are huge numbers of bike lanes in the city and leading out to all parts. These are used primarily by normal bikes, electric bikes and personal electric scooters. All three have proliferated like mushrooms over the last few years and this again has massively reduced the number of cars on the roads... However, be careful when crossing the roads as you now need to check the bike lane both ways, then the road both ways or one way and perhaps another bus and taxi lane then a load of pedestrians on the other side.
If you are going to join those in the bike lanes then remember you might well need a helmet, you can't use scooters or bikes on the pavement/sidewalk and there is actually a speed limit but if you get up to that speed limit then you are most certainly going too fast in the city centre for sure.
Solar Panels and Batteries
This is a difficult one if you live in an apartment because you haven't got a roof for solar panels although we are starting to see panels that can be draped over the balcony and terraces of apartments and even solar windows that can produce electricity (although these are currently expensive) and communities are starting to look at whole community solar setups for buildings.
If you have a house or if you have a penthouse apartment then solar panels are a bit of a no brainer as prices have come down considerably and the Government will give you up to 60% off your installation and your batteries. Banks will also finance you at low interest rates for the installation. A good 3.6kw system, 12 panels, will provide you with an average of 80-90% of your electric needs in a typical house. If you are frugal with electric you can actually feed the grid and have a negative electric bill especially in the summer months. If you go away for the summer your house actually acts as a cash earner for you when you are away, our 3.6kwh system was producing up to 20kwh per day during the summer.
We found that the installation of batteries was an excellent way of storing that electricity as all of that excess daytime energy was saved allowing us to turn on the air conditioning at night or leave the fans on to sleep better for free. As mentioned, the batteries are also subsidised.
Powerwalls and Smart Battery Technology
This is coming, where the battery charges itself when electricity is cheapest and the house runs itself off the battery when electricity is most expensive, however it is still in its infancy here at the moment. Equally, charging home batteries from electric cars is still nigh on impossible here due to the lack of skilled electricians able to set up the system even though cars now have the ability to run a house for days in case of blackouts. Mine could run my house for around 4-5 days in the summer and 8-10 days in the spring and autumn from a full battery for example (See below for car details). This will come and it will come soon.
Tilting at Windmills?
Of course the sun cannot shine at night but you can still charge up your batteries with a wind generator. However personal ones on houses are not popular due to noise and vibration at high winds. They are common in off grid systems where the house has no grid supply but they are not massively popular. However there are estates and whole towns in Spain that have their own huge local windmill that supplies the energy of the town to a greater or lesser extent.
Changing your electrical supplier is an excellent way of going more green more easily, it can be done with a simple phone call. All energy suppliers use a mix of methods to supply their energy. Therefore you can choose a supplier who provides energy from more sustainable methods to reduce your carbon footprint at a stroke. At the moment the claim from Octopus Energy is that they are the greenest of all energy suppliers but that may change as this consideration becomes more important in people's lives and competition kicks in. They also allow you to install solar panels and become part of their virtual battery where you upload to their system and download from it making the grid they have greener. It's an interesting concept.
One other thing to remember is that if you have solar then the companies pay you for your excess. The amounts you can get for this excess vary wildly so take this into consideration when signing up to your supplier.
Now it's time for my favourite bit so allow me to drone on a bit as it's my blog and I get to choose what I write about. Those who have met me will know that I have an electric car and I can bore you to tears about it (and I often do to people, don't I Dave?!). I got it because my wife already had one, a Kia E-Niro, and it was amazing. Before we get into details, just to let you know, I have worked out I save about 3k per year in fuel costs on my car and about 2k on my wife's based on the number of kilometres we do. That's a lot of kilometres and a lot of money... a lot.
My car is a Hyundai Ioniq 5, see above, and honestly it's the best car I've ever owned bar none and by a huge distance. The only one that comes close is my wife's E-Niro. Now straight up, they are not cheap to buy, but the government helps you with subsidies and when you consider the ongoing savings after purchase compared with a traditional car they are already cheaper to run and maintain (and will only tend more that way as fossil fuel prices rise). Equally you can lease or rent one for a pretty comparable price to ICE cars now so if you are thinking of leasing or renting just go for it. When all of the excellent new Chinese EVs are imported and a price war starts then expect even better deals (and larger ranges but the current ranges on electric cars are more than sufficient for 99% of drivers).
If you trade in an old car you can get up to 7000 Euros off the price. (You pay upfront and then sometime in the distant future the government will pay you back through the Plan Moves III). If you don't trade in an older car you still get 4500 Euros off. The range of my car is anywhere up to 500km, and if I use it just around the city I actually get more than that which is truly ridiculous (in a good way). On long trips I get around 350km per charge with a full car.
However the cry always comes out... "But I can't charge it anywhere...." That's wrong. Believe me you can.
These are some of the apps I have for charging on my phone. The Bluelink and Kia Connect are for the cars themselves so we can warm them up or cool them down before getting in, the best thing about electric cars especially in a hot climate apart from the environmental benefits. (We never need to de-ice of course in Valencia but that can be done too.)
Recarga Pública is Iberdrola's charging network where some are free but of course they also include paid from 7c/kwh to 59c/kwh. Acciona is my favourite because it's for the free local charger in my town (I am using it as I write this). Moviltik is for some chargers in car parks in the centre of Valencia and other places from 20c/kwh to 40c/kwh. Enel X Way is for Endesa's network, Ionity has fast destination chargers spread around the country so it's more for long trips, Place to Plug and Electromaps find local available plugs and which network they are on. These apps are useful for finding the town hall's own chargers and Valencia are adding another 88 chargers in the city over the next six months. Wenea and Waylet are Repsol and other petrol companies so they are usually found at petrol stations, Zunder are a growing network of fast destination chargers, Eranovum can be found in car parks at Consum supermarkets and are usually fast chargers... etc etc... Prices vary but the most expensive I have ever seen was 89c/kwh. I didn't use it!
Now of course, the cars themselves have navigation to take you to where the nearest chargers are but when planning a long route it's best to know where you are heading and you can accurately estimate when you will get there using Google Maps (or "A Better Route Planner") and often reserve the chargers.
Here's the kicker though, whenever I use the paid services then usually I can "fill" the car for around 30 Euros. Mostly though a charge from 20% battery to 80% battery in a fast charger will take around 20-25 minutes and cost me around 16-20 Euros (Plus a coffee and a toilet break). A petrol or diesel fill up in a service station is considerably more expensive and you don't get to feel as smug either.
The image above is my car charging for free in a car park in Valencia. Which car park is free? Well, ask me and I'll let you know. It's a special one for our clients only as I want free spaces when I get there ;-). Also I don't charge much outside my town and local area except on long journeys because of the free chargers around.
Oh and a couple of things I didn't tell you, a few extra advantages if you like. Car tax on electric cars is negligible, parking in blue zones in the city is totally free, services are cheaper as there is no oil or other liquids to change as there is no engine just a drive train, you pass the ITV car inspections easier because there are no emissions, loads of supermarkets have free chargers to attract you to shop there and every week there are more and more places to charge where you can pay too. Life with an electric car in the city and around is good even when you cannot charge at your home, if you live in an apartment for example.
The Best Deals on Electric Cars
This will be a constantly moving feast because new cars will come out every month and new offers and price wars will emerge but as I am writing this in January 2024 the best deals are as follows, and by best deals I mean excellent cars at cheapish prices with immediate availability. (That's important because sometimes there is a long waiting list, I had to wait five months for mine for example).
BYD is a Chinese brand called "Build Your Dreams" They have some excellent models and a spanking new showroom in Valencia but their cheapest is probably the perfect city car, the BYD Dolphin. From 24k, the BYD Dolphin is excellent with a 420km range. The cheapest electric car around is the Dacia Spring. It has a range half of the BYD Dolphin but again is perfect as a city car. As I write you can find a second hand one with just 4000km on the clock for 15k, (Remember though as it's second hand there's no government money available) and new ones are available from 20k (after grant). MG (also a Chinese brand) are the next offer and the MG4 gets the plaudits and you can get it from 19k for the standard range 350km version.
And yes, you can get a Tesla... if you really want... if you wait a bit... but until they get rid of that a***hole Musk then maybe you shouldn't. And if you want a cybertruck then you're a nutter but luckily that monstrosity will never be allowed on Europe's roads so you won't be able to waste your money on it.
Best Second Hand Offers
I saw a second hand E-Niro long range on sale this week with only 36000km on the clock for 18k. That's an absolute bargain. It'll still have three years of guarantee left on it too. 450km of range on that one. However, at the moment there aren't too many great deals on second hand EVs because most people who get them here keep them! Once you go EV you don't go back. So it's best to take advantage of the Government Grants.
Government Action and Incentives
Just to confirm you get grants for buying electric cars, grants for solar panels, grants for battery storage, incentives to take old cars off the road, and the costs of inaction mean your bills go up and up and up year on year. Once you take advantage of these grants and incentives you get a saving year on year too so do it while the grants and incentives are in place because eventually things will inevitably change. A lot of these grants and incentives are powered by the Covid regeneration funds provided by the EU.
Valencia wants to be greener and part of that is the designation as Europe's Green Capital for 2024. But a city cannot do everything; other things need to change in the world and among people. We all need to make our own little steps and hope that the politicians and companies around the world are shamed into taking more action.
Living in Valencia, with our mostly sunny climate, means that putting solar panels on your house is a total no brainer, getting batteries to store that energy is also a no brainer and if you can allow yourself, then getting an electric car and a home charger is a great idea. The first steps will also future proof your home and add value and the second part with the car will make your life much more comfortable and cheaper on an ongoing basis. Those panels can also power your electric bike, your scooter and even the rechargeable batteries for your phone, your camera and even your drone, but they will also make your air conditioning and heating cheaper. Now, one day we will actually get serious here about heat pumps too and that's a total other story.
Property of the Week
Anger, bitterness, recrimination and arguments about who gets to keep the kids "You get them!", "No, you have them". As a buyer when you are looking to get a house this is all music to your ears as you may think that this allows you to make a cheeky offer and get a place for a fraction of the asking price. And sometimes you can. But not always. Let's introduce you to the psychology of offer making in Spain 101.
Now obviously it depends on the levels of hate involved in the divorce. If there is real "cannot be in the same room and all communication is carried out through my lawyer" levels of vitriol then there are two possible outcomes. Both partners accept a lower offer because they never want to have to talk to each other ever again except when handing the kids over for the weekend which has cold war bridge in east Berlin vibes every weekend. Or one partner hates the other so much that they know their ex will accept a lower offer but just to screw them over they won't move an inch. Oh yes, a third possibility, it's amicable and all negotiation is possible... but it never is though is it, this isn't Hollywood?
So what happens when you have a situation like this? Well you make an offer and quickly find out which of the preceding scenarios is playing out here. And why would you make an offer here...
Well, the house is pretty cool with what was described by a client on their visit this week as their favourite room of all that they have seen in any property and that room is not the huge garage/den downstairs but the lovely looking living room with ridiculous numbers of windows and patio doors giving it a colonial feel. It would also have a lovely view out to the pool at the back but a recent storm took the back wall down and the pool has been left to go a lot greener than the lawn that surrounds it so it's a bit of a mess at the moment. However the owners, or at least one of them, have promised to either repair and replace that wall before purchase or discount the cost from the asking price (The latter is your better option)
Three floors with a large living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor, four bedrooms, washroom and two bathrooms upstairs and a den downstairs which is a huge garage, office, storage area into which you can take your car down the rather thin driveway and turn it around before attempting to drive back out because reversing out doesn't look like a great option to me.
The gardens are tired and full of fallen olives because the house has been empty for a couple of months and with the current cost of olive oil that probably adds a few thousand onto the price.
So our advice here, is to turn up, take a look and then make an offer and we'll find out which scenario plays out regarding the War of the Roses.
PS: To riff on the theme of today's post, there is loads of roof space too here for those solar panels and plenty of garage space for your battery and charger.
Read More of Our Recent Posts
We write a lot and these posts are often described as brilliant for anyone looking to buy property in Valencia so you might want to read some of the latest ones. See below and just click on the image of any title that tickles your fancy.