3 years ago

Whose self-sufficiency? Energy dependency in Spain from 1939

Lino Camprubí

Publication date: February 2019

Source: Energy Policy, Volume 125

Author(s): Lino Camprubí


After Civil War (1936–1939), economic scarcity and political isolation reduced Spanish energy imports to about 10%. After a decade of stagnation, Spanish economy recovered, industrialized and boomed. Without domestic resources, this process largely depended on foreign imports. This paper analyzes the different actors involved in developing the infrastructural and institutional networks that enabled those imports. While it focuses on the Francoist regime (1939–1975) it is attentive to continuities and changes with respect to prior and, particularly, later periods.

The article's thesis is that, rather than assuming a homogeneous state with a unique strategy, different actors within the administration and in private industry pursued competing strategies and favored different resources–coal, hydropower, oil and nuclear and, later, natural gas and renewable energies. These actors shared a rhetoric of autarky and self-sufficiency, which they then mobilized to build their systems of domestic infrastructures and international connections.

Given an increasing dependency on imports, competition between powerful state and private organizations was constantly evolving in response to altering expectations and perceptions of energy vulnerability and scarcity. Transition to democracy in 1978 and access to the EEC in 1985 led to a gradual liberalization, acquisition of infrastructures by foreign companies, and internationalization of Spanish firms. Today's diversification of imports can be seen as the result not of a unified strategy but of competing alternative strategies.

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