Growing protests against sustainable energy parks in Spain

by Deborah Cater
sustainable energy parks spark protests in Spain

All over Spain, protests against the large-scale installations of solar and wind farms are heard from various quarters. Anti-movements want more controls in place in the transition to sustainable energy over the next ten years.

This is what the Spanish government wants in the coming years: to generate 57 gigawatts of sustainable energy. For example, the Institute for Renewable Energy Sources Forestalia has the ambitious plan to build 22 wind farms in the province of Teruel alone. The farms would have a total of 161 wind turbines.

Sustainable energy parks harmful to economic activity

Operators of tourist accommodation are not all equally happy with this. They consider the parks harmful to the natural environment, and thus to their economic activity. This is no different in the Extremadura region. Badajoz would become the province with the most windmills, closely followed by Murcia province.

Last March, the Club Sénior de Extremadura, a society made up of 230 economists, industrial and agricultural engineers from the region, released a report in which they strongly oppose the construction of wind farms in Extremadura. They say they have no economic value for them.

Sustainable energy at the expense of winegrowing land

Spanish winegrowers also protest against the construction of large wind and solar parks. Experts from the University of Alicante published a manifesto highlighting the historical and landscape value of Spain’s vineyards. In the next two years, 5,000 hectares of wine-growing land will have to make way for sustainable energy parks.

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At the foot of the Sierra de Chiva (Alicante), Falck Renewables Power are planning a mega-installation. Solar panels would cover 400 hectares of land. However, environmentalists, residents and municipalities from the Valencia region warn the energy transition will be at the expense of the landscape, flora and fauna. There needs to be better control over the management of the energy parks.

Windmills in the sea harmful to ecosystem

There are currently no windmills in the sea, but the Ministry of Ecological Transition intends to change this in the near future. Fishermen from the Galicia region strongly oppose this, saying offshore wind farms damage the ecosystem and fishing grounds. According to them, windmills in mountain areas cause much less damage to nature.

Call for better control

The call for control is growing from all quarters. Farmers are offered up to €2,000 per hectare of land in exchange for the installation of wind turbines. That is eight times more than income normally generated by agricultural land. Naturally, it is tempting for many to give up land in favour of sustainable energy parks.

In addition, not all farmers are offered this opportunity, contributing to social inequality. In short, the call for better planning, control and spatial planning in the impending energy transition is great and will only increase in the coming years.

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