A large and varied representation of voices from the scientific, environmental and economic world has launched a manifesto calling for the deployment of large renewable energy projects in Catalonia, considering that it is urgent to accelerate the energy transition immediately and on a large scale.
For the signatories, the debate between small and large facilities (domestic self-consumption and industrial projects) must be overcome and bet on a hybrid energy model as an essential solution for a fast and fair energy transition.
The promoters of this manifesto demand decisive action from the Government to compensate for the “delay” in the implementation of renewable sources in Catalonia, with the aim of “addressing the climate crisis, the price crisis and air pollution”.
They argue that clean energy is progressing very quickly throughout the State and already in 2021 contributed 46.7% of electricity, while in Catalonia this percentage only reached 17.5%. Catalonia occupies the seventh position in the ranking of wind energy by communities and the eighth in terms of photovoltaics.
“Catalonia is at the tail of Europe and Spain in energy sovereignty and renewable energy. Renewable sources are essential to guarantee the supply of energy to urban centers, industry or essential equipment”, the document states.
Among the figures supporting the initiative are Enric Sala, National Geographic explorer and founder of the Pristine Seas project; Pep Canadell, executive director of the international consortium Global Carbon Project, or marine ecologist Kike Ballestero, from the Blanes Center for Advanced Studies (CEAB-CSIC).
The risk of social and economic collapse is too serious
“The risk of social and economic collapse is too serious not to undertake the energy transition immediately and on a large scale,” they state.
His argument is that in order to achieve a carbon-free Catalonia in 2050, it is not enough to strengthen photovoltaic installations on roofs and roofs, which would only make it possible to generate 16% of electricity in 2050, but that “in order to reach the objectives set, it will be necessary to multiply by 33 the current capacity of solar and wind production in Catalonia”, they add.
Wind and solar farms can coexist with agricultural and livestock activities
The authors of this declaration invite us to overcome the debate between conservation and development. They maintain that it is possible to guarantee the minimum environmental impact with the best technologies and knowledge available.
In this sense, they defend that “wind and solar farms can coexist with agricultural and livestock activities” while “offshore wind farms can be compatible with tourism and the conservation of marine biodiversity and fishing”, they highlight. .
“We have the knowledge and capabilities to reduce the mortality of birds and bats in wind farms by more than 90%,” they point out.
“The energy transition is not a dichotomy between a centralized model of facilities controlled by an oligopoly of companies versus a distributed model of energy islands of community participation,” the document states. “The future of energy is a hybrid model, where local energy communities will coexist with producers and consumers who exchange
energy with a large regional and international energy market”, it adds.
In parallel, they highlight that these large facilities provide environmental and economic benefits in the territory, in the form of investments, jobs, new taxes or environmental improvement actions. The municipalities and owners would receive 10,000 million euros in income from taxes and rents until 2050.
It is difficult to understand the opposition and mobilization against large renewable projects
“The deployment of renewables is perfectly compatible with the conservation and improvement of our marine ecosystems. It is difficult to understand the opposition and mobilization against the large renewable projects and that at the same time there is so little action to stop the development of gas infrastructures,” says Aniol Esteban, environmental economist and marine biologist, director of the Marilles Foundation, one of the signers.
“In the case of renewables and the fight against climate change, doing nothing is synonymous with being left far behind. We cannot stay in a past where we think that renewables are expensive, inefficient, and ugly. Renewables have evolved a lot and today they are the cheapest and cleanest source of energy we have,” says Mar Reguant, economist and professor at the Northwestern University of Chicago, member of the Conseller Assessor for Sustainable Development of the Generalitat.
Eliminate foreign dependency
Those responsible for the manifesto consider that large renewable projects offer the opportunity to reduce foreign energy dependence and contribute to mitigation, with the territory’s own resources, of the serious consequences that climate change is already causing in the immediate environment.
In this sense, the text highlights the effects of the unprecedented heat wave this past summer which, combined with a prolonged drought, has caused serious losses in agriculture, extreme risk of fires, water reserves in an extreme situation, the sea with temperatures never seen before and more than 700 deaths.
The manifesto is also supported by defenders of nature such as the open water swimmer Miquel Sunyer or the photographer Iñaki Relanzón, as well as science educators such as the biologists Evelyn Segura i Pere Renom and the journalist Jordi Vilardell, as well as young climate activists such as María Serra or Martí Pardo (Fridays for Future Girona). They are joined by profiles from the economic world such as Mar Reguant, professor at Northwestern University in Chicago and member of the Generalitat’s Consell Assessor for Sustainable Development, and businesswoman Mònica Roca i Aparici, Telecommunications engineer and president of the Chamber of Commerce. from Barcelona.
The manifesto is open as of today to new adhesions both at the individual level and of groups and organizations. weather emergency.
Seventh among 16 autonomous communities
As of December 31, 2021, Catalonia was the seventh community in terms of installed wind power, with 1,271 MW, behind Castilla y León (6,384 MW), Aragón (4,491 MW), Castilla-La Mancha (3,946), Galicia (3,879 ), Andalusia (3,518) and Navarra (1,305); and ahead of the Valencian Community (1,243), Asturias (658), the Canary Islands (536), La Rioja (448), the Region of Murcia (263), the Basque Country (154), Extremadura (39), Cantabria (35) and Balearic Islands (4).
Catalonia has managed to break a decade-long streak without new wind farms. This year a wind farm in Llardecans, in El Segrià, promoted by Eolia, with 20 wind turbines and 2.2 MW of power each came into operation.
And before the end of the year, two 49.4 MW wind farms promoted by Naturgy (both) are expected to come into operation in Terra Alta, and which are not yet connected to the grid.