Always see it in English

Wind blowing toward Teruel

Almost fifty wind turbines make up the 3 wind farms of Muniesa, which have breathed new life into the town and boosted the region’s socioeconomic development.

The 55 meters of the Mudéjar tower of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption dominate the landscape of the town of Muniesa, Teruel. In recent months, new “neighbours” are settling in the outskirts of the city. They will never be a national monument, like the formidable octagonal brick tower, but they bring new air to the municipality. The 38 windmills that are being erected outside Muniesa, between this town and the neighbouring Alacón, are providing oxygen to the local economy.

“Since the works started in October of last year, there has been more life in the town. There are more people at the bar, more movement. Right now, there is not a single house available in the town. A new outsider even came, who had to go 40km from here because all homes were rented”, confirmed Jose Luis Iranzo, mayor of Muniesa.

The construction of three wind farms has implied a small revolution for this city of the region of the coal mining areas of Teruel, a town of 610 registered residents, of which 450-480 reside in the municipality. Most are dedicated to dryland agriculture focused on growing barley, and livestock, especially raising sheep. The province of Teruel has lost half of its population in the last century, but it is not giving up. “Teruel continues to exist and will always exist. We are tough people and we are adapting to the new technologies”, confirmed Iranzo.

What they’re also adapting to is Muniesa's new skyline splashed with windmills that “people are largely getting used to”, he indicated. As a result of the transformed landscape, the town has new revenue for the neighbours who have rented the lands and for the businesses of the town. Between 80 and 100 workers have reached Muniesa to erect the wind turbines of the wind farms being built by Enel Green Power España (EGPE), Endesa’s division of renewable energies.

Image of wind turbines

One of the neighbours who has most noticed the change caused by the construction of the new wind farms is Manuel Torralba, manager of the Hostal Rosa Mari. “Our business has tripled. Before, we were serving between 50-60 meals per day and now we provide between 160 and 170. And the 16 rooms of the hostel are full,” he pointed out. Manuel recalled that the workers started to arrive in September of the year before, a “calm” month, but since October, activity has shot up and, in addition to the construction workers for the farm, there are also workers who have renovated Muniesa’s lighting system, one of the commitments that EGPE acquired upon closing the agreement to build the wind farms.

Manuel is a "one-man band" from the hostel who moves from the kitchen to the bar and from the bar to the dining room with ease, thanks to 40 years of experience in the family business. He shoots off numbers to show the change caused by the installation of the wind farm: "Before, there were five or six people working in the hostel. Now, there are nine of us," he emphasised.

The farm has given direct employment to 14 neighbours of Muniesa, a figure that climbs to 35 if the residents of the surrounding towns are included, and up to 616 when the indirect jobs are added.

“Many people that were unemployed in the town are working with the construction companies and even people from the surrounding towns have come to work here”

Jose Luis Iranzo, mayor of Muniesa

New opportunities

The construction phase will generate the most impact in terms of employment, but wind farms will bring other benefits to Muniesa. Jose Luis Iranzo points out the lighting of the streets is switching to LED technology, which will also be used to illuminate the public buildings more efficiently. The town hall has notified Enel Green Power of the type of illumination it wants and not just any one will do, because Muniesa wants to form part of the network of towns of reference in the "tourism of the stars". The scarce demographic density translates into dark nights, without the light contamination inherent to big cities, which makes it impossible to enjoy the view of the starry sky. In Muniesa, the stars can be seen and, like the wind, they can bring benefits to its neighbours.

In addition to the 550,000 euros that the Endesa affiliate will invest in these plans to create shared value and sustainable engineering in Muniesa’s junction area, the income that the wind farms will generate for the public coffers via taxes open up new possibilities for the municipality. "We will do the studies to see if we can lower taxes and we are analysing the possibility of changing the sewers," he added.

However, the town’s vision is beyond the construction phase, which will end at the end of this year. The mayor of Muniesa insists on the importance that neighbours join together in everything related to renewable energies to be able to have a future in the sector. "Companies must move, and in this case, they’ve done so, to provide these courses" which can lead to steady jobs for the neighbours of the area, he indicated. And from the city hall, they admit that what they’d like is for an industry related to wind turbines in the city to be implemented.

Image of a woman at work

Currently, the Molduras Muniesa factory is the only industry in the town. In the ‘90’s, the La Ilusión toy store closed, which had generated important activity in the area over the years. Iranzo remembers when he was young and Muniesa came from his childhood home of Barcelona. "In those days, whenever you walked down the street, you would see grandmothers out in the open “making plastic thingies”, as we used to say, cutting plastic borders and all types of little tasks involved with making toys".

His aspiration now is to build an industrial nave so that a company related to wind turbines is installed in Muniesa, taking advantage of the fact that it is going to become a focus of implementing wind energy. The objective: for wind to leave a mark on the town.

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