A lost decade for energy sovereignty |  Catalonia

A lost decade for energy sovereignty | Catalonia

The delay is so resounding that even the Government speaks of a “lost decade”. It is not the only area in which we are now paying for the ten years of inaction in which the mirage of independence was prioritized and everything else was postponed. But energy is surely the one that best synthesizes the contradiction of prioritizing a sovereignty of political decision that not even independence fully guarantees, and at the same time abandoning that on which the future of the country will depend: energy sovereignty. And that is serious, because the way to get rid of foreign energy dependence is precisely to have as much renewable energy as possible.

It is true that with the so-called sun tax, which penalized the installation of photovoltaic panels, and other measures clearly designed to favor large electric companies and give them time to take positions, the regulatory framework was not favourable. But this regulation was common to all of Spain and, therefore, it does not explain that while in the country as a whole renewable energies contribute 44% of the electricity we consume, with peaks of up to 60%, in Catalonia they barely contribute around 14 %. In fact, solar in Catalonia only represents 1% of the total energy, wind 2% and hydraulic 11.2%. And that while in Spain the installed capacity of renewables reaches 54%, here it does not even reach 20% counting the important contribution of hydraulics.

Now it is one year since the approval of decree 24/2021 that was supposed to unblock and accelerate the energy transition. It has been unstuck, but the results are still poor. So far this year, four large wind projects have been processed and another seven have been approved, totaling 355 MW of power. And it is also true that there is an explosion of self-consumption projects. In 2022, 25,711 have been approved, with 208 megawatts (MW) of installed power, double the number processed since 1995, but the 50,000 installations in total are still far from the levels of countries like Germany, and also far from the 500,000 that would be needed to help meet the decarbonization targets in 2050. To go well, 12,000 MW of installed power would have to be reached by 2030, that is, 18 times more than what was before the decree. And that is just around the corner.

The challenge that Catalonia faces is phenomenal, and requires concerted action at all levels and political actors. But it also requires neutralizing the idea that all this is possible without cost, without altering the landscape. A part of the opposition to wind megaprojects could be justified by the arrogant and extractivist way in which they are presented by large investment groups, for whom renewable energy is just a new business in which the landscape and its inhabitants matter very little. But the current regulations give tools to the local community to promote, intervene and participate in a shared and distributed renewable energy model. Justifying the opposition only on landscaping arguments is not very serious given the seriousness of the problem.

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