|Energiaren Euskal Erakundea|
|Basque Energy Agency|
|Agency executive||Edurne Oiarzabal Urrutia|
|Parent agency||Ministry of Industry, Energy and Trade|
The Basque Government first created its energy agency, the Energiaren Euskal Erakundea - EEE (Basque Energy Agency) to help tackle the second oil crisis of the early 1980s and lay the foundations for an energy policy that has been grounded, to different degrees at different stages, on energy efficiency, diversification of energy sources and promotion of new energies. Since then EEE has been in charge of developing projects and initiatives in line with government policies and is also responsible for all matters relating to exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons and the granting of such licenses.
Mission and Vision
Energiaren Euskal Erakundea, as the Basque Government's energy agency has the mission to:
- Propose energy strategies for the Basque Country, based on criteria of supply security, cost competitiveness, sustainability and technological development.
- Participate in developing these strategies and contribute to meeting the targets established therein.
In order to achieve this mission, the agency provides a service to the Basque Government's Ministry of Industry, Energy and Trade in matters related to energy and geological and mining resources. It also participates in projects, involving private companies and government institutions. It works to disseminate the values and messages underpinning its strategies amongst society at large.
EEE's capacity for action is backed by the technical capacity, commitment and leadership of its staff and by efficient planning and management of its resources.
Energiaren Euskal Erakundea seeks to continue to be the region’s benchmark organisation in the energy field for its contribution to energy efficiency, development of renewable energy, supply security and its leadership in positioning the Basque Country as a knowledge pole and industrial reference point in the energy industry. It does this by
- Promoting singular projects with stakeholders that are best positioned to make a contribution;
- Creating market opportunities that can be capitalised on by Basque business, based on the energy investment made;
- Contributing criteria to society on energy-related values;
- Contributing to compliance with the Minister of Industry, Energy and Trade’s plans and objectives;
- Obtaining the economic resources it needs to allow it to self-finance its activities.
Renewable Energy Area
One of EEE's basic areas of action involves promoting the renewable energy sources that are available in Euskadi and encouraging development of these energy types helps improve the quality of the Basque energy system.
Although there are a significant number of solar installations in Euskadi, solar power is one of the renewable sources that contributes least to the nations's energy balance. It currently accounts for just 1% of the renewable energy consumed.
Solar thermal energy
Application of the Technical Building Code for new buildings and comprehensive rehabilitation projects, as well as implementation of this type of system in existing buildings with important hot water requirements or heated swimming pools (sports complexes, old people's homes, hotels, hospitals, hostels, etc.), is leading to a proliferation in solar thermal energy, with hundreds of new facilities.
Photovoltaic solar energy
- Installations, nearly all with small power levels, for systems that are not connected to the power grid (road signs, public lighting, water pumping, rural electrification, etc.)
- Installations normally of between 5 and 100 kW which are hooked up to the power grid and sell the electricity produced, for which they receive a special premium.
Altogether there are over 2,000 installations in operation in Euskadi. Energy policies will be oriented towards widespread use of this type of plant, insofar as technological advances and production systems allow an increase in yields and a reduction in specific investments.
The regulatory framework in the Euskadi for developing wind power consists of:
- The Energy Strategy of Euskadi to 2015 (3E-2015), which identifies the different types of installation:
- Wind farms: more than 8 wind turbines and over 10 MW capacity;
- Mini wind farms: fewer than 8 wind turbines and under 10 MW capacity;
- Mini wind turbines (mini wind power): small installations with a capacity of under 100 kW,
- The Wind Power National Sector Plan, passed into law in Decree 104/2005 of 14 May 2005, identifying areas in which, in principle, it would be possible to install wind farms.
- Decree 115/2005, of 28 May 2005, governing the procedure for authorising wind-powered production facilities in Euskadi. This applies to facilities with a capacity of over 500 kW.
Euskadi has a long history of small hydroelectric facilities. Most were originally associated with industrial clusters and formed the basis for the electrification of rural areas. From the 1960s on, however, no new small hydro stations were built, since low oil prices made it more economical to build large thermal power stations. Many facilities that proved too expensive to run were closed down.
Aware of this situation, EEE set up a programme to restore former small hydro falls used in plants like flour mills, forges, etc. and turn them into modern automated generating plants. The programme encourages restoration of these plants. EEE takes a shareholding in municipally-owned companies, provides grants and gives technical advice and information on the harnessing potential. As a result, by late 2010 there were around two hundred small hydro facilities of under 10 MW in the Basque Country by late 2008, with total installed capacity of 1590 MW.
Hydroelectric power (12 power stations of over 10 MW plus the combined output of small hydro stations) contributes around 19.5% of the electricity produced in Euskadi.
The types of biomass harnessed most for energy purposes in Euskadi are:
- Black liquors and wood bark from the paper industry; The energy is harnessed by burning the biomass to obtain heat and power.
- Timber waste from wood processing industries such as wood-cutting and furniture factories; The biomass is normally burned to heat water for use in the factory.
- Timber waste, in the form of splinters or wood pellets, which are used in the residential sector to supply hot water and/or heating by means of combustion.
- Municipal Solid Waste (MSW); The waste is either harnessed directly by incinerating, or the organic part is transformed into biogas through anaerobic digestion in landfill sites or in biodigestion reactors. The biogas can subsequently be burned to produce heat and power or it can be purified and fed into the natural gas mains.
- WWTP (Waste Water Treatment Plant) sludge; As in the case of the MSW, treatment plant sludge can be turned into energy through combustion, or processed using anaerobic digestion in reactors, to create a biogas, which will subsequently be valorised for energy purposes. Combustion, either of the treatment plant sludge or of the biogas obtained from it, produces heat and electricity.
- Vegetable oils. Used oil and clean oil (ground out of oil-bearing seeds) form the raw material used to make biodiesel by means of a process of transesterification.
The energy strategy of Euskadi for the coming years envisages increasing the use of biomass energy, with a significant rise in valorisation of:
- Forestry waste
- Agricultural waste (herbaceous and wood)
To increase the contribution of biomass to the regional energy balance, it is also planned to develop the following lines of research and development:
- Obtaining bioethanol from lignocellulosic matter
- Obtaining biodiesel from oils from algae
- Obtaining fuels and/or chemical compounds from biomass, by means of gasification and pyrolysis processes and subsequent treatment and catalytic synthesis
Of all renewable energy sources, marine energy (also called ocean, or maritime energy) is the one that still has the furthest to go to achieve commercial maturity.
The most important advantage of marine energy is that it is a source of high energy density, which means that a large quantity of energy can be obtained from a small occupied surface area. The chief disadvantage is the the great difficulty in extracting the energy in such a hostile environment.
Very little marine energy is currently being tapped, with total installed capacity limited to a few pilot plants located in a small number of countries. Marine energy stands at a position of technological divergence, with many ideas under development, none of which has proven a clear technological leadership.
Marine energy takes different forms:
- Waves: Waves are caused by the action of the wind on the surface of the sea. They can travel hundreds of kilometres
- Tides and sea currents: The displacement of large masses of water caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon causes locally periodical variations in the sea level and currents that can be used for energy purposes. Sea currents also lead to phenomena such as differences in the density and salt content of the water, differences in temperature, evaporation and rotation of the Earth
- Thermal gradient: Solar radiation on the sea causes differences in temperature between water at the surface and at the bottom of the sea of over 20ºC
- Saline gradient: At river mouths, there are major differences in the salt concentration between the sea water and the river water
The only marine energy which can be harnessed in Euskadi is wave energy: the intensity of the other phenomena is not sufficient to allow them to be used.
In the field of wave energy, two global "firsts" are being implemented in the Euskadi:
Mutriku Wave Energy Plant
Making use of the construction of a new breakwater at the entrance to the harbour at Mutriku, plant has been included in the designs to harness wave power using “Oscillating Water Column” (OWC) technology. The plant, which has a capacity of 2 MW from 20 turbo-generator sets, is the first of its kind operating with multiple turbines in the world. It occupies 100 metres of the breakwater and is now close to completion and connection to the power grid.
BIMEP – Biscay Marine Energy Platform
With a view to speeding up the technological development of wave energy to a commercial stage, an area for testing and demonstrating offshore wave energy converters is to be created off the coast at Armintza (Bizkaia). The test centre, with a generating capacity of 60 MW, will be a key facility for the world wave power industry and will help boost the development of an industrial sector and knowledge of the field in the Euskadi. It is due to begin operating in the second half of 2012.
Energetic Mineral Resources Area
Since it was founded in 1984, EEE has been concerned with geophysical exploration, focusing on a search for energetic minerals and hydrocarbon deposits in the Basque-Cantabrian Basin and more recently in the Etame Marin Basin located offshore the african region of Nyanga. Exploration work is carried out chiefly through surveying concessions. EEE participates in these concessions alongside other domestic and international mining and hydrocarbon companies, prospecting for new coal, shale, gas and/or oil deposits.
The Basque-Cantabrian Basin is an area of 250 x 100 km located in the extreme west end of the Pyrenees Mountains. It is a Mesozoic and Tertiary sequence on a Hercynian (Devonian-Carboniferous) basement and the stratigraphic colum shows continuous series of sediments from the Permo-Triassic through the Tertiary, reaching a thickness of 15,000 metres, including evaporites, carbonates, clastics and volcanics.
The basin was formed during the stages of rifting and opening of the North Atlantic (Bay of Biscay: separation of the Iberian and European plates) due to deformation due to the collision of the Iberian and European plates from the Maastrichtian through the Oligocene. The Pyrenean phase of the Alpine Orogeny (Eocene-Oligocene) deformed the sedimentary series, uplifted the sedimentary section and inverted the basin.
See also: Nyanga Basin
The formation of the Nyanga, Gabon, Douala and Rio Muni basins along the west coast of Africa began in the Early Cretaceous, during the breakup of Gondwana and subsequent opening of the South Atlantic Ocean. Early rift sediments include the Barremian age Melania shale, a rich lacustrine source rock which has an average TOC of 5-6% with local maximums of 20%. Later rift deposits include reservoir quality sediments accumulating in the fluvial-lacustrine deltaics of the early Aptian Dentale formation.
A transitional erosion and peneplanation phase followed rifting, culminating in a marine transgression during which the Gamba sandstone, the principal reservoir in the Gamba field, was deposited. This was followed by a period of salt deposition during the late Aptian, during which approximately 500m of Ezanga salt was accumulated.
The pre-salt section has all the ingredients for a successful petroleum system and this is confirmed by the number of discoveries made since the 1970s.