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New air and new neighbours arrive

Fuendetodos, the home town of Goya, has recovered its energy of yesteryear with the construction of the wind farm that has reactivated economic activity and rehabilitated cultural heritage.

Only 41 minutes by car from the Aragonese capital Zaragoza, Fuendetodos, a small town of 150 inhabitants, located in the region of Belchite, is one of the most depopulated areas of Aragon. Only 44 km away, but it reveals the contrast between the developing city and the rural areas, which is seeing how the proximity of the capital is gobbling up their future. Famous for being the birthplace of the painter Francisco de Goya, Fuendetodos has seen how the passage of time and the rush to the capital have left its streets empty.

In recent years, reinventing itself and finding new tourism-related activities has opened up new opportunities to create a settled population and prepare to receive an average of 25,000 tourists a year. Goya's house, the Engraving Museum, becoming acquainted with one of the few outdoors ice refrigerators still standing in Aragon, visiting the bunker and the trenches where fighters in the Spanish Civil War hunkered down etc.

With the onset of the construction of Endesa's 24 MW wind farm in the area, through Enel Green Power Spain EGPE (one of the four parks planned in the province of Zaragoza), another visitor profile has been added to Fuendetodos, but during the working week.

The renewable projects have reactivated economic activity. "The little industry we have is all based on this sector. You can look around and you have a lot of houses with sunken roofs because they have been abandoned", says Angel Camín, a worker at the seven-turbine farm in Loma Gorda, which is responsible for the concrete making up the foundations of the wind turbines. The area is once again buzzing with activity and noise. Like Angel, 463 other people, working both direct and indirect jobs, are working on building the farm.

“The hostels are full to the brim, people are going to eat at restaurants, I wish they could build more parks”

 Ángel Camín, worker at the seven-turbine park in Loma Gorda

Enrique Salueña, mayor of Fuendetodos, was among the first to comprehend that the arrival of new green projects in the area would create an opportunity. "Because wind farms are now being brought into operation, the city council published job offers for people who would like to work in the parks and several local people have been working", he says proudly. And not just for residents of Fuendetodos. Endesa's training and courses on renewables have been extended to 60 people in the area. The idea is to train local people to break the trend of young people being forced to go to Zaragoza to seek out new opportunities.

 

Shared value in Fuendetodos

Apart from the creation of jobs in the building process and the subsequent operation and maintenance of a wind or solar project, Endesa differs from other companies in that it implements a development model that envisages actions for the creation of shared value in the surrounding communities. To do this, the company wanted to learn first hand about the area's needs, so as to contribute and set in motion projects that were in the pipeline waiting for the right time. For all these projects, the company has set aside 140,000 euro.

Men of Fuendetodos

This is the case of the restoration of the old ice refrigerator known as Pilón Bajo. "If Goya hadn't been born, Fuendetodos would have been famous for the snow and its trade," says José Luis Ona, an archaeologist working on the recovery of these stone giants. Once, there were as many as 20 refrigerators, semicircular stone buildings in which snow was stored to transform it into ice and preserve food or medicine. Fuendetodos became the largest supplier of ice to the region and one of the largest in Zaragoza. These types of citizen's architectural constructions, which are recognised as a Heritage Site, have their origin in the sixteenth century and were in use until the twentieth century. Today, the Culroya refrigerator is the only one still standing in Fuendetodos, and it is one of the five that continue to defy the passage of time in the area.

The remains of the Pilón Bajo refrigerator are at rest in the vicinity of the wind farm. This architectural gem has suffered the passing of centuries and the plundering of its stones, which were used for other building purposes. "To me, personally as an archaeologist, I think it's lovely," says José Luis when referring to this type of action for conservation and recovery of heritage or the restoration and signing of the hiking route that has also been undertaken.

Man working in Fuendetodos

A locality with more people and more life

This is a walking tour that invites you to recall the customs and practices of a lifestyle that is not really so far in the past: one more closely linked to the countryside, livestock or ice-related commerce. "Thanks to this we are going to recover many things that we have lost", notes the mayor of Fuendetodos.

Pascual López, professor at the Engraving Museum workshop, has been teaching courses to explain the techniques of this art for 23 years. "Thousands of children visit and we suggest that, in addition to seeing Goya's house, they can make their own engraving". With an accent reminiscent of warmer lands and his Murcian origins, Pascual asserts emphatically: "Wind farms..., that's like gold, if there's money the City Council contributes to the workshop, and in the workshop I'm there".

New air and new and silent giants that will begin to spin their blades before the year is out. They come to Fuendetodos to stay; and not only to be part of the new landscape, but also to become part of the engine of activity in the region, as ordinary residents.

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