Wind energy is part of the future of territories

For more than 30 years, thanks to wind energy, we have been producing electricity efficiently and economically, helping to make our planet more sustainable, because wind energy is a source of clean energy, which avoids the emission of greenhouse gases, reduces the price of electricity, increases our energy independence and preserves the environment.

By Juan Virgilio Márquez

In the municipality of Paradela (Galicia) wind development has coexisted with rural life for a number of years. Photograph taken by Álvaro Ybarra Zavala for the series "El legado que seremos" [The legacy we will be].
In the municipality of Paradela (Galicia) wind development has coexisted with rural life for a number of years. Photograph taken by Álvaro Ybarra Zavala for the series "El legado que seremos" [The legacy we will be].

Wind power means clean and cheap generation, and it is a technology that provides additional value due to a series of positive external factors: A commitment to economic and social development, high-quality employment, the generation of wealth within the territory, a comprehensive and competitive value chain, an ecosystem consisting of companies that are resilient and financially strong, technological leadership and internal positioning as leaders.

But the advantages of wind energy include not only being an inexhaustible and indigenous energy that supplies electricity to more than 23% of Spain today, but it is also a prominent technology in the mainland electricity system and the first by installed power. All this is the result of the more than 29,000 MW installed in Spain distributed between 1,298 wind farms in more than 850 municipalities. There is no known municipality in Spain where wind farms have been installed that has not undergone a process of positive transformation and evident development.

Wind farms, in the municipalities where they are located, have made it possible to develop industrial plans based on the value chain of wind activity, as well as new municipal infrastructures to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants. Wind farms also tend to be located in municipalities where the population is low (la España vaciada or empty Spain), contributing to the establishment of a population, since they generate both economic activity and employment.

In addition to creating employment and local wealth as a result of their own activity, wind farms coexist with essential activities for the economic and social development of the surrounding area, including agriculture, livestock, fishing and tourism, and in no case does it replace them. In wind farms, only a minimal part of the total area is occupied by wind turbines, so much of the land is used to grow crops or to breed animals.

The development of wind power is sustainable within the territory and compatible with the environment and the protection of biodiversity. Before building a wind farm you need to have a positive Declaration of Environmental Impact . Environmental impact studies and environmental monitoring plans are strict and demanding, ensuring that biodiversity and natural environments are protected. Before installing and subsequently operating a wind farm you need to build tracks or roads to provide access for machinery and maintenance. These tracks are suitably maintained and provide local residents with access to the land for cultivation and livestock, as well as for activities such as hiking and cycling.

For the present and future of the wind sector, society and the territory are our essential focal points and our main objective for suitable, respectful development that is beneficial for society in every way. For a number of years, the main players in the wind sector have been working on monitoring and sharing solutions for the implementation of wind energy in the territory.

"The development of wind power is sustainable within the territory and compatible with the environment and the protection of biodiversity".

This is why it is so important to provide access to dialogue to be able to inform rigorously and professionally, with an active collaboration and carefully listening so as to be able to define, together with social agents and territories, how we should promote wind energy in Spain, by promoting social awareness with regard to its differential value. The installation of onshore and offshore wind farms in Spain should be undertaken with scrupulous environmental care and sensitivity towards local communities. The opportunities provided by wind power for fair transition are evident, and an essential feature of a social-economic project for the future for all inhabitants.

The current social-economic situation presents a new energy paradigm for global emergency. Energy safety and the reduction of external energy dependence are key aspects in current world politics, with renewable energies being a structural and urgent solution.  Accelerating renewable deployment is a priority, enhancing its industrial and technological value chain in Europe, where wind power stands out as a mechanism of competitiveness and protection for consumers as it helps reduce the price of electricity. For this development to occur, we should continue to find an understanding with the territories and the people who live there, increasing social acceptance for wind energy, with everyone involved having co-responsibility in the fight against climate change, to take care of our economy and increase our industrial and technological presence in the global arena.

With this in mind, the wind sector has created, for example, the “Winds of the future” initiative, a collaborative movement that establishes the importance of wind energy as a commitment to the future, y que persigue impulsar su desarrollo en España desde la escucha, el diálogo, la reflexión y la divulgación. "Winds of the Future" involves a number of commitments which include highlighting the importance of wind energy to achieve fair and environmentally friendly energy transition and, at the same time, contributing to the development of the rural environment.

The latest report by Deloitte for the Wind Business Association, consisting of a Macroeconomic Study of the wind sector in Spain, shows that communities that have opted for the installation of wind farms have significantly improved their per capita income.

Perfect examples of the coexistence between wind energy and the rural environment can be seen in a number of towns distributed throughout Spanish territory, where their economies are based, or have been based in the past, on agriculture or livestock, or on other industries, such as mining, but where in recent times wind energy has made its presence felt as a major economic driving force. Excellent examples of these municipal districts include Fuendetodos (Zaragoza), Lubián (Zamora), Minuesa (Teruel), Barásoain (Navarra) and Higueruela (Albacete), some of which have been awarded the EOLO prize for Rural Integration, presented annually by the Wind Energy Business Association.

To conclude, in Spain, wind energy is already an essential feature of our country, the landscapes and the lives of many inhabitants who live with this technology.

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