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A glimmer of hope

November 24, 2011 – 1:11 pm

The most common system for producing solar energy in Andalucia: rows upon rows of panels, which reflect light onto towers...

Amidst all the uncertainty of this post-election week, with everyone waiting for the new Prime Minister-elect, Mariano Rajoy, to make his pronouncement on how he’s planning to get us out of this mess, it was a relief to come across some extremely positive news.

Not that it is a special announcement – some of these statistics have been in the public arena for a while, since they’re about state spending and budgets. It’s just that it’s a list of statistics which is about job creation rather than job loss, and spending that will happen, rather than be cut – and on a grand scale. Which makes a welcome change.

...which produce steam to drive a generator, making electricity.

Between now and 2013, the renewable energy sector (wind and solar power) will create a whopping 110,356 jobs – 10% of the unemployed in Andalucia. Half of these – about 60,000 – will be for building the plants and parks (vast fields of mirrors which reflect the sun’s rays onto towers). The other positions will be in operation and maintenance of the plants, and in jobs indirectly related to their running. The plants have a life of around 20-30 years, during which time they will employ around 50,000 people in total.

All this activity, which will be of desperately-needed benefit to the Andalucian economy, is part of the Europe-wide strategy to have 20% of energy produced from renewable sources by 2020. Here in Andalucia, we currently use 14% sustainably produced energy. This year, 1,900 million euros have been invested in the sector, through about 1,600 companies.

The total amount of investment, from 2007-2013, is estimated to be in excess of 16,100 million euros. Of this, almost one third – around 4,900 million euros – will be recouped as energy sold back to the network. Foreign companies are starting to invest in this fast-growing area, which is good for the local economy, and good for the environment – both short and long-term.

There are already several solar power platforms around Andalucia; the first and most famous of these is Solucar, in Sanlucar la Mayor near Seville (as shown in these photos), which opened in 2007. Others include Gemasolar, also in Seville province, which can generate electricity at night, and Torresol in Cadiz.

The Certificado Energetico Andaluz will rate a building's energy efficiency.

And Andalucia will soon have its own Certificado Energetico Andaluz, monitored by the Junta, which will measure the energy efficiency and quality of buildings and industries. This is part of the Ley de Fomento de la Energias Renovables y el Ahorro y Eficiencia Energetica (The Law of Development of Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency and Saving), which also dictates that by the end of next year, each fleet of public buses must use at least 15% biofuel.

So that’s something to feel sunny about, isn’t it?

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