"Coal engineer José Manuel Pérez Rodriguez can only laugh when he recalls what
his university taught him about renewables.
"My teacher said, well, we are going to teach you that but it's going to be of
minor use," he says. "It's not profitable, it's very expensive. Just centre on
Twenty years on, he works in Spain's last full-time coal-fired power plant in
the coal mining province of Asturias. His job is to plan its conversion into a
green hydrogen plant.
As head of hydrogen conversion for the power company EDP, Mr Pérez Rodriguez
still marvels at how quickly coal is vanishing from the energy landscape.
"Everything is changing dramatically every year," he says. "We expect that the
next year is going to be greener, but it's always greener than we expect. This
Three years ago, Spain's Socialist Workers' Party government signed an
agreement with trade unions and energy companies to shut down the entire coal
industry in return for early retirement and investment in replacement
Known as Transicion Justa, or "Just Transition", it's become the model for
rapid transition from fossil fuel production. There is now only one mine still
operating in Spain and it's due to close in December.
Foreign Correspondent travelled to Asturias on the eve of the United Nations'
landmark IPCC climate report, which has hardened calls to end investment in
Unlike Australia, where lobby groups have pushed to expand coal production,
Spanish corporations have embraced the change. Angeles Santamaria, CEO of the
energy giant Iberdrola, says there is not a single coal project in the world
she would invest in."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics