The best possible legacy: Work, the future
There is almost always a common denominator when you look closely the stories linked to the energy transition in which we are immersed: The link between the past, the present and the future can be found in the people. An endless collection of anonymous workers who carry the energy sector in their DNA, who have lived since childhood with the very special world of generating, distributing and retailing electricity in the forefront of their lives. And they are exceptional witnesses of the changes presented by the new times and production using renewables.
But above all, because of their work in the same company, they have become depositories of a collective, family heritage, of a link between generations and generations with the same lineage. They have received a singular legacy, perhaps the best possible: work. And here are some of the stories that affected their lives.
- I remember the first time I visited the thermal power plant (Andorra, Teruel). I was still a child and when I went into the control room I was very surprised to see so many on and this is when thought: What a cool job my father has!
Sonia Bielsa, who is now a wind farm maintenance supervisor, represents the fourth generation of her family working for Endesa. Her great-grandfather started in coal mines and she is the first to make the leap into renewables.
- I was born and raised in Andorra and now I live here with my family. I have studied Technical Engineering in Industrial Design in Zaragoza. The first year of my degree she did an internship with Endesa, at the Andorra thermal power plant, in the technical office, and four years later she started working as deputy shift manager (the same position as her father) in the operation department, which is where we supervised and controlled the entire plant. In July 2019 my life changed, when one door closes, another opens and with the closure of the plant I was lucky enough to start working as an Operation and Maintenance supervisor in the new wind farms.
Sonia's case is similar to that of Manuel Ortiz. His father (also called Manuel) arrived in Andorra when he was 7 years old and ended up working 32 years in the mine. Manuel's grandfather left Priego de Córdoba to participate in the construction of the railway line that linked the mining basin with Escatrón (Zaragoza), where the most important thermal power plant in the area was located until the one in Andorra was built.
- When I was 8 years old I had already visited the mine and always said that when I grew up I wanted to be a hunter and miner like my father.
After training and starting his professional career in an auxiliary company, Manuel ended up at the power station. With the closure of the plant, he also began to participate in the promotion of renewable projects in the same area, including the construction of the Sedéis V photovoltaic park.
In another corner of the Iberian Peninsula, in As Pontes (A Coruña), 900 kilometres and nine hours away by road from Andorra, Víctor Gómez is working the night shift in the coal-fired power plant that his father helped build in the 70s. Originally from Silván, in León, Elicio travelled to Galicia to participate in the construction, through a contractor company, of one of the icons of energy production nationwide. Later, he joined Endesa to work in what was the largest open-cast coal mine in Spain.
- I worked as an electrician on excavator number 14 and since I was a child a large part of the conversations already revolved around work ... He always encouraged me to focus my working life on this sector.
Víctor is an industrial technical engineer and his first internship was at the plant, in the electronic instrumentation department. That initial experience encouraged him to try to join the company. He started out as an auxiliary in charge of the maintenance of telecommunications and from there it was possible to take a global look at everything that Endesa was involved in within the area: From the most obvious installations like the power plant, the combined cycle and the wind farms, to others that tend to go more unnoticed such as the port terminal in Ferrol and the stations for measuring environmental parameters.
- There were vacancies at the power station and I finally managed to join the workforce.
He worked alongside his father a few months before he retired and went on to devote all his time to family, travel and visiting his hometown, where he has a farm with fruit trees that he takes care of. But when he is in As Pontes and can enjoy his grandchildren he always reminds them how, under that huge sheet of water that today is the lake, he was part of the team on excavator number 14.
The pointer on the map faces east again. We are off to the Catalan Pyrenees. To a unique area in the foothills of the mountains that mark the way to Europe. In the Camarasa hydroelectric power plant, the manager, Marc Miret Olives, has also followed in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. This is a somewhat different case from the previous ones, because this time the transmission of that intangible heritage that is to have the door open to a labour development did not involve a change of technology or exploring production from new energy sources. Continuity appears to be more accentuated in the absence of a change of business.
- He is a telecommunications engineer and worked in a company in the sector, he had a good job and surely, a long professional career awaited him. But I encouraged him to give Endesa a try and if he didn't like it, he could always resign.
The person speaking is Miquel Miret Montané, Marc's father, who spent more than four decades working in an installation designed to feed the industrial belt of Barcelona, to support the economic explosion of one of the country's great business hubs.
- The power station has always been a part of my life. Since I was little I remember my father picking up the phone when they called him because there was some incident and the power station has now become an opportunity to return to my place of origin, to return home.
The legacy we will leave
The legacy we will leave is a reflection of fair energy transition in Spain seen through those playing a leading role.
This is a project sponsored by Endesa and created and promoted by the documentary photographer Álvaro Ybarra Zavala. Álvaro is a witness to our process of change and tells stories about those playing a leading role in this change through his photographs.