Santiago Carbó
Featured voices - December 17, 2021

Santiago Carbó

Professor of Fundamentals of Economic Analysis at the University of Granada

“Not embracing nuclear power was a strategic mistake"

We are closing Foro Nuclear's last newsletter of 2021 with Santiago Carbó, Professor in Fundamentals of Economic Analysis at the University of Granada, Director of Financial Studies at the FUNCAS Foundation and consultant at the World Bank, among other positions.

Mr. Carbó is used to talking to the press, has authored over 300 scientific articles and writes columns for several media. He enquired about the interest of this interview, which he understands is linked to his recent statements in favor of nuclear power. "One day, Spain might regret not having more nuclear power plants," he says at the beginning of the interview, "because it is one of the cheapest sources of energy," he adds.

“Spain might regret not having more nuclear power”

Large dependency from the outside

In the expert's opinion, "not embracing nuclear power was a strategic and basic mistake." We depend on the energy sources that we lack. Nuclear power would make us less dependent from the outside." "Since there is no energy strategy," he adds, "we have acquired a large dependency from outside sources, which also causes enormous price rises at certain times. That is our great weakness. We could blame the pandemic, gas prices and a thousand other things, but the reality is that we have not done everything possible to not be more independent, energetically speaking."

“Depending on exterior energy sources makes electricity more expensive. That is our country's big weakness"

Electricity at a reasonable price

Firstly, we need guarantee of supply, and secondly we need electricity to be cheap, or at least not more expensive than in our competitor countries. Having electric energy at a reasonable price is critical because we all need it (citizens, small businesses, large companies...) It is something that affects everyone because we all use energy," indicates Carbó, and reminds us that "there was no plan in place for us to have cheap energy now."

"Defending nuclear energy, just like defending banks, is not cool"

During this interview we also spoke about public opinion, which perhaps lately is more familiarized with nuclear energy. "Nuclear power has many advantages, and we need to remind people of this through teaching. In these times when the international community most supports nuclear power thanks to the role it plays in fighting climate change, I believe there is better public perception of it," comments this Professor of Fundamentals of Economic Analysis. But it might be a slow process, he adds, because "politically speaking it is a very controversial issue and there will always be political parties against it. Also, political parties that favor or remain neutral towards nuclear power might lack the belligerance of the parties in the opposition, or might fear losing votes over their support of this technology. Defending nuclear power, just like defending banks, is not cool."

However, he says, "in the face of the distressing energy dependency, which is enormous, along with climate change, we are considering changes in our country." He believes that Germany's decision to shut down its nuclear power plants in 2022 is a mistake, and so is Spain's future nuclear phase out. He reminds us that "by embracing nuclear power the energy bill would go down, since complying with the ecological transition will be very, very expensive.

“If we embraced nuclear power in Spain, the electricity bill would go down"

Apart from nuclear power, during the interview we also discussed his strong links to Madrid, his return to his professorship at the University of Granada, his life back and forth between both cities, his work at the FUNCAS Foundation and his extensive international experience, such as advisor to the World Bank, and of course his opinion on the economic situation in our country.

"The international experience has always been enriching. When the chance came up for me to go to the Chicago Federal Reserve full time, it was a great opportunity. My professional profile changed there; I received more visibility in Spain and internationally," he comments. "Chicago remains in my memory," he adds, and also expresses his fond memories of Bangor University in the United Kingdom, "a very interesting academic experience."

Santiago Carbó
Santiago Carbó

“The economy and employment in our country are improving; however, I am concerned about the mid- and long term"

We cannot lose our time and positions

He defines his work as Financial Studies Director at the FUNCAS Foundation, as "one of those nice and interesting places where it is worth working". Here, among other activities, they elaborate highly appreciated reports and previsions on the Spanish economy, with visibility in the mass media.

We take this opportunity to ask him about the economic situation in our country. "In the short term, the economic and employment situation is improving. Although recovery is more modest than we thought it would be six months agogiven uncertainties associated to the pandemic and inflationwe have been able to grow above 4% this year. Employment-wise we are better than expected, and it will continue to improve in the short term. Still, the great challenges of Spanish economy are the mid- and long term; it needs to be more competitive, it needs to place its talent, and it needs to participate in the technological change towards energy sustainability and digitalization. In the short term, as I said, I am optimistic, but the mid- and long term are one of the big challenges for the Spanish economy. We cannot lose our time and positions," he says, as an end to this interview.

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