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”.
Wind and solar farms can coexist with agricultural and livestock activities, they say
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 the marine ecologist Kike Ballestero, from the Blanes Center for Advanced Studies (CEAB-CSIC).
“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 promote photovoltaic installations on roofs and roofs, which would only make it possible to generate 16% of electricity in 2050, but rather “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.
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”, stand out.
“We have the knowledge and capabilities to reduce the mortality of birds and bats in wind farms by more than 90%,” they point out.
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 fees and rents until 2050.
“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”, points out Aniol Esteban, environmental economist and marine biologist, director of the Marilles Foundation, one of the signatories. “In the case of renewables and the fight against climate change, doing nothing is synonymous with falling far behind. We cannot stay in a past where we think that renewables are expensive, inefficient, and ugly energy. 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 Northwestern University in Chicago and member of the Consell Assesor per al Desenvolupament Sostenible de la Generalitat.
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.
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 and Pere Renom and the journalist Jordi Vilardell, as well as young climate activists such as Maria Serra or Martí Pardo (members of Fridays for Future in Girona).
They are joined by profiles from the economic world such as Mar Reguant and the businesswoman Mònica Roca i Aparici, Telecommunications engineer and president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce.
The manifesto is open as of today to new adhesions both at the individual level and of groups and organizations.