Natural gas supply to Muro was inaugurated in March 2019. | Lola Olmo

Differences between the Balearic government and suppliers of natural gas are holding up the spread of gas in Majorca. The latest proposals from the government have not been to the liking of suppliers, who are insisting that before gas is made available to small urban areas, it should be provided for those with the greater demand.

At present, thirteen municipalities have natural gas: Alcudia, Andratx, Calvia, Felanitx, Inca, Llucmajor, Manacor, Marratxi, Muro, Palma, Sant Llorenç, Santa Margalida and Son Servera. In the case of several of these municipalities, the supply has been driven by demand from hotels in resorts.

On various occasions, the government has started procedures for expanding the gas supply network, only to run up against suppliers having different priorities. It isn't that the suppliers won't establish connections for municipalities such as Estellencs, which only has some 300 or so residents, but they want to supply certain municipalities first. Pollensa and Santanyi are two clear examples. Both coastal municipalities, they have demand from hotels. A government response has been to delay issuing new authorisations for supply.

Sa Pobla is one municipality to have complained. Recently, the mayor, Llorenç Gelabert, met the director-general for energy, Aitor Urresti, and discussed Sa Pobla's energy needs. He highlighted examples of businesses which would like to switch to gas. Residents are also in favour. Gelabert notes that gas would have a positive financial benefit for businesses. Accepting that it is of fossil origin, he nevertheless stresses that gas is more respectful of the environment than other fuels, e.g. diesel.

Consell's mayor, Andreu Isern, says that there are industrial businesses there which are interested in having natural gas. A town hall council meeting recently voted unanimously in urging the government to give "maximum priority" to supplying gas to the whole island.

Gas is classified as a "transition" source of energy. This implies that infrastructure for its supply will be unnecessary after 30 or 40 years, if there is the total shift to renewables as the government wants. However, the same infrastructure could be used for hydrogen and biogas, both considered to be renewable.