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The path to renewables

The Camino de Santiago runs through Paradela and now, with construction of the new wind farm, the path of sustainability and economic and social growth also runs through here.

The history and natural charm of Paradela are closely linked to the more than ten centuries that the Camino de Santiago has traversed these lands in the south central region of the province of Lugo. Thanks to this, the municipality is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and aspires to be one of the villages in the Ribeira Sacra, which is known for its numerous Romanesque constructions.

In this magical enclave, in perfect harmony with the environment, a wind farm is being built that will provide green energy to pilgrims and locals, and will be in addition to the two farms that are already under construction in the province of Lugo.

In an area of approximately 120 km2 lives a population of 2143 inhabitants, although the numbers have kept declining in recent years.

“Vamos a seguir bajando población. Sin embargo, estamos en expectativas de ser productores de energía limpia. Por fin son una realidad los parques que está construyendo Endesa, a través de Enel Green Power España, con una inversión de más de 60 millones de euros, y que repercute a los vecinos”

 José Luis Mato, alcalde of Paradela.

To talk of the Ribeira Sacra is to talk of wine. The region's landscape is usually marked by the well-known "socalcos", vineyards in terraces set on the slopes of the mountains. "Here we make wine without adding any chemicals", says Benjamín Rodriguez, one of the region's viticulturists. But in the case of Paradela, the most important wine-growing estates have been disappearing over time due to the increase in water from the reservoir, which also flooded many villages in the area, forcing their inhabitants to emigrate. "There were vineyards, but now nothing, now there's nothing. Only water", laments Benjamin.

 

A project that makes a contribution to communities

At present, the small population of this Lugo municipality is quite scattered. "We need associations that can bring people together", says Maria Rocío Domínguez, president of the Paradela Women's Association. Accustomed to living in the midst of nature, associations like hers have welcomed the wind farm with open arms as a clean energy that unites and gives life to the village. "Seeing companies arrive, people interested in rentals, supermarkets full of people buying, cafeterias with people eating or drinking coffee— for me, that's wonderful", says Maria Rocío. In addition, Endesa has installed a biomass stove in the Women's Association headquarters so that the cold winter does not separate the women of Paradela.

Building in Paradela

The construction of the wind farm has relied on labour from the village. This is the case of Carlos López, who was born one kilometre from where the park is located and is now a civil works supervisor. "I submitted my CV, they offered better working conditions and I didn't have to think twice," says Carlos. For him, living in Paradela is no limitation, quite the contrary. "I've always loved the country and I'm glad I stayed," he says.

The work Carlos is supervising began in April and when the wind farm comes into operation at the end of this year, it will generate energy equivalent to the consumption of more than 10,000 households. As Carlos rightly points out, "the way our lives are today it is impossible to live without energy and renewable energies are the best option we have".

Man of Paradela

Energy for tourism

In addition to the advantages of renewable energy and the contribution to employment, the park that Enel Green Power Spain is building in Paradela has a marked social orientation. The City Council has taken a shareholding in the company and now has a 10% stake. "We are committed to renewable energies so that Paradela residents can have better quality of services. In other words, this is wealth for the world and for us", says the mayor.

The City Council proposed to Endesa that it would be advisable to take some action to attract tourism. They decided to make the most of the region's appeal by improving a hiking trail that runs near the St. James Way for 16 kilometres parallel to the river Miño, the so-called "Ruta do Loio", which has been declared to be in the interest of society. "Endesa is going to execute this project on the Camino de Santiago with an investment of 150,000 euro and parts of the Camino that had been derelict since time immemorial are going to be recovered", emphasises the mayor.