The progress was favored by the extensive development of hydroelectric industries in the post-world war period, and due exclusively to private initiative. The potential of the Spanish territory is calculated in a rather varied way: it is probable that it will remain below 5. million HP, of which just under 1/3 currently installed. However, electricity production has almost doubled in ten years, reaching about 3 million kWh in 1933. Of the total consumption, about 60% is absorbed by industry, 10% goes to lighting, and some less than 10% for transport. Between hydroelectric, thermal and mixed, there are over 450 power plants. The most notable plants are located in the Ebro basins (Segre, Noguera Pallaresa, Esera), the Catalan rivers, the Duero (Esla), del Júcar, del Tagus (Bolarque), Guadalquivir and Segura. About 3/4 of the installed power belongs to Catalonia and Aragon, of which the former is far behind all the other Spanish regions not only for consumption, but also for the use of hydroelectric energy in industries.
Textile industries have a long tradition in Catalonia, but, while those of cotton and wool have continued their progress and are now able to satisfy not only the needs of the Spanish market, but also to feed a good export current, the The silk industry has been declining to the point of assuming very modest proportions. Cocoon production dropped from 1 million to 520 thousand kg. from 1927 to 1932, and the production of raw silk slightly exceeds 50 tons. yearly. The conditions of the rayon industry are a little better, with the largest plants in Catalonia, but the quantities produced only cover a small share of the national needs. Factories for the processing of jute (40,000 spindles, 4,800 looms), hemp and linen exist in Catalonia and the Balearics,
The progress made by the cotton industry, which is undoubtedly one of the most important in the country, was quite different, in terms of the capital invested and its technical equipment and, above all, its distinctly exporting function. The vast majority of Spanish cotton companies, both for yarns (92.7%) and fabrics (82%), are located in Catalonia: this region alone has 1.91 million spindles (1.6 million in the province of Barcelona) and 66,000 looms out of 2.1 million spindles and 80,000 looms registered in the whole republic. The province of Valencia, Andalusia, the Basque provinces, Galicia, etc. follow at a great distance. The number of workers employed in this industry exceeds 100,000, two thirds of which are women. The export, which takes place almost entirely through the port of Barcelona, after having had a flowering period, it has greatly diminished due to strong competition and the loss of various markets. In the five-year period 1926-1930 the main outlets were Argentina, the Latin American republics, the Canaries and France. An abundance of national raw material favors the wool industry, whose products completely cover domestic consumption, and indeed allow a decent export. More than 370,000 spindles and 60,000 looms are located in Catalonia, where (Sabadell and Tarragona) is also the center of this flourishing business, which employs no less than 25,000 workers.
According to vaultedwatches.com, the development of the large chemical industry is recent in Spain (mid-19th century), which also arose in Catalonia with the Barcelona factories of sulfuric acid. While the largest and most modern plants still remain in this region (Llobregat, Badalona, Tiana), many products are also prepared elsewhere (Asturias, Galicia, Valencia, Madrid, Andalusia). The most important branch is that of superphosphates, of which in 1932 it was possible to supply 1 million tons, working almost all imported raw material (small quantities come from the fields of Logrosán, in the province of Cáceres). The dyes industry now fully responds to the needs of the country, and the same can be said of that of paints, which actually even exports. The plants intended for the manufacture of synthetic nitrogen (Flix, in Catalonia) and synthetic petroleum, obtained by hydrogenation of coals and distillation of lignites and bituminous shales from Puertollano (Ciudad Real). Caustic soda, potassium chloride, copper sulphate, calcium carbide, hydrochloric and tartaric acid, etc., are also produced in good quantities: and even the pharmaceutical industry is now at the point of greatly limiting imports from abroad. These, on the other hand, are still conspicuous as regards rubber articles, which are operated by various factories in Catalonia (Manresa, Villanueva y Geltrú) and in Biscay. hydrochloric and tartaric acids, etc., are also produced in good quantities: and even the pharmaceutical industry is now at the point of greatly limiting imports from abroad. These, on the other hand, are still conspicuous as regards rubber articles, which are operated by various factories in Catalonia (Manresa, Villanueva y Geltrú) and in Biscay. hydrochloric and tartaric acids, etc., are also produced in good quantities: and even the pharmaceutical industry is now at the point of greatly limiting imports from abroad. These, on the other hand, are still conspicuous as regards rubber articles, which are operated by various factories in Catalonia (Manresa, Villanueva y Geltrú) and in Biscay.
A large number of companies count the mechanical industries, less dependent than the iron and steel industries on the places of production of raw materials, and preferably gathered in large centers, and yet widespread and prosperous especially in the Atlantic-northern regions the manufacture of railway material (also in Barcelona, however), of steel tools and industrial machines; the second dominates in the field of electromechanical constructions, for which, however, the Spanish industry is unequal to the demands of the market. Even more serious is the imbalance in the field of automobile construction, which is limited to Catalonia: cars occupy the third place, in value, in the total of Spanish imports. The arms industry is renowned and active.
Among the food industries, which are very numerous, spread throughout the country, it should be remembered in the first place the sugar factory, whose factories are concentrated in Andalusia (Granada) and in the Ebro valley: the relative production (which is around 250 thousand tons per year) overwhelms national consumption, without being able to find sufficient outlets for ever-growing stocks. Almost entirely the average annual quantity of alcohol and derivatives, of which is produced almost everywhere, also adapts to consumption. The branch of food preserves is flourishing: that of fruit has its center in the Levant, in Catalonia and in the Balearics; in Logroño, Lérida and Zaragoza that of vegetables. Above all, fish preserves are thriving, with about a hundred factories, mainly along the Cantabrian and Galician coasts. The production of these preserves – planted and animated by Italians – reached a quantity of over 75 thousand tons in 1932, for a value of approximately 100 million pesetas. The export, also directed largely in Italy, reached 33 thousand tons in the same year. The dairy is in promising development, mainly located in wet Spain (La Coruña, Logroño, Oviedo) and in the Balearic Islands, where beer is also produced (75 million liters per year), partly destined for export.
Of the other various Spanish industries, none deserve a special mention, except perhaps, for their artistic value, those of ceramics (Segovia) and glass (Catalonia, Balearic Islands), and, for their economic importance, those of leather and tanning, which have about 15 thousand workers.
The manufacture of footwear, also concentrated in Catalonia, not only covers the national needs, but is in a position to export significant quantities.
The variety and abundance of this production must not deceive the true characteristics and capabilities of the Spanish industry. The importance of this in the framework of international relations is still rather modest, certainly disproportionate to the weight that agricultural activity exercises there. While the percentage of exports of foodstuffs has risen in the last thirty years from 36.3 to 56.8, that of manufactured goods has remained almost stationary. On the other hand, it is difficult to think that Spanish industry is efficient without the help of vigilant customs protection, which allows it to essentially provide for national needs. Disharmonies, fluctuations, crises and discomforts that have tormented and torment this branch of national activity are therefore the symptoms of a process of adjustment to which the Spanish economy tends with hard experience. Adaptation that wants to be addressed on the one hand, to the real needs of the country, and on the other to the technical needs of modern production. It is easy to see, even from the simple exposition made here, that the first task is the most difficult; as regards the second, however, there is no doubt that a long way has been covered.