The little champion of renewable energy

In a moment when the big news were that the European Union leaders agreed that a fifth of its energy by 2020 will come from renewable sources, a piece from BBC News on Friday talked about a place where right now, almost 70% of its energy comes from the wind and sun. (Watch a clip with the story by clicking here)

It is the region of Navarra, in Northeastern Spain, better known in the US for the “running of the bulls” in Pamplona, made famous by Hemingway.

Being poor in energy resources, it bet heavily on renewable energy in the eighties. 

clipped from
Now (…), this tiny region is capable of generating more electricity from renewable sources than big EU countries like France or Poland.

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This strategy has worked well, as this industry has become one of the largest in the region and, in the process, it has created a lot of jobs (4,000 in the last decade).


 Image courtesy of Acciona Energia

Some 1,100 windmills are dotted all around the many different landscapes of Navarra, which are astoundingly beautiful, by the way. (See pictures above and bottom left)

All of the big Spanish manufacturers of wind turbines and related equipment have facilities in the area, like Gamesa, Acciona Energy, Mtorres, Ecotècnia and Ingeteam.

This drive from the regional government also helped them secure the headquarters of the Spanish Center for Renewable Energy (CENER, by its initials in Spanish). This technology center is immersed in ambitious plans, for example, building the most complete trial windmill laboratory in the world for the huge wind turbines of tomorrow. (This project has sparked the interest of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory , that wants a similar one here).

But the focus in Navarra is not only in wind but progressively more on sun energy.  One of the largest solar parks in the world (9,5 MW) is at a site near Pamplona.

Quoting Oana Lungescu (BBC News): “In a growing trend in Spain, the solar park is a co-operative, with 750 individual owners. The cost of a panel starts at 50,000 euros, but with a tax break from the regional government and a guaranteed annual income there is a long waiting list of willing buyers”.


Selva de IratiIrati Forest (Pyrenees mountains, Navarra)

Originally uploaded by valischkas

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6 Comments on “The little champion of renewable energy”

  1. […] Harvesting the sun Yesterday, Monte Alto,  one of the solar pv plants (9,5 MW) with the highest yield (14 Million annual Kwh) in the world was officially inaugurated by Acciona Solar in the city of Milagro (Navarra, North Eastern Spain – mentioned in a post some days ago).  […]

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