Es Murterar supplies 50% of Majorca households with electricity. | Andrew Ede

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The Balearic government has suffered a major blow to its plans for ensuring zero emissions by 2050 and for moving over completely to the use of renewable energy sources (photovoltaic).

A key aspect of the government's plans is the partial and eventual total closure of the Es Murterar coal-fired power station in Alcudia. It had seemed as if Madrid was amenable to these plans, but the regional minister for energy, Marc Pons, said yesterday that the closure of Es Murterar has been rejected on cost grounds. "It is against commitments that Prime Minister Rajoy is said to have for tackling climate change and it condemns the Balearics into maintaining an outmoded system of energy production."

Pons explained that renewable energy production will continue and will increase, but the Madrid decision clearly runs counter to the ambitions for clean energy in the Balearics. Pons believed that the decision was wrong and had been taken with an eye only to the short term. He also considered that Madrid is in breach of European agreements and that the national government will need to explain its decision to Brussels. A letter denouncing the decision has been sent to the European Commissioner for Action on Climate and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete.

The regional government had warned that a rejection could increase tensions with Madrid, and the decision is bound to be taken badly not just by the political parties in the government.

Meanwhile, the status of workers at the power station will presumably be secured. There was a protest outside Es Murterar on Friday by workers concerned by the loss of jobs that a partial closure by 2020 would cause and unconvinced by a government plan for job relocation.