Tarragona has six out of ten wind farms in Catalonia

The regions of Tarragona are fully complying with the commitment to the energy transitionat least with regard to wind power and despite all the delay that Catalonia is dragging in terms of the deployment of renewables. Camp de Tarragona and Terres de l'Ebre accumulate 64% of all Catalan wind mills (521 of 811) that are currently in service. Baix Ebre, with 159, and Terra Alta, with 148, are the regions that have the most, by far. The province of Girona has none.

Of the 71 operating parks in Catalonia, 42 are in the province. It is almost 60%, practically the same proportion if the energy generated is analyzed: 723 of the 1,271 MW put up for grabs come from these parks, all according to data from the Climate Action Department.

The Ministry itself is shown satisfied by the contribution of southern Catalonia to that transition that is taking place especially slowly in Catalonia for more than a decade behind schedule. «Finding territorial balance is impossibleespecially in terms of wind power”, says Jaume Morron, manager of EolicCat, an association that brings together the majority of companies linked to the wind power sector that operate in Catalonia.

This can be influenced by the greater or lesser opposition of the territories but also the conditions. "Regarding photovoltaics, everything is more balanced, because the sun gives more or less the same in all places, although it also ends up influencing soil availability», says Morron.

Technological progress, key

It is more complicated with wind power, but there are nuances. "The wind is where it is, although it is now expanding dispersal of wind projects because there are technological improvements that make it possible to build taller towers and longer blades and that now makes it possible to put a wind turbine in a place where it wasn't before,” says Morron. The result is that there are more suitable enclaves due to its situation and characteristics to contribute more but the advances must provoke a greater territorial equity. "In the Alt Empordà there are places likely to contribute more," underlines Jaume Morron.

45% of the wind turbines in Catalonia in the pipeline are located in the province

The truth is that also within the province itself the distributions are not equal. 63% of the mills in the province are in Terres de l'Ebre. Tarragonès and Baix Penedès, the first and third most populated regions in the province, do not have any windmills in service.

Mills off the coast?

The same can happen with offshore wind, a technology that is being planned off the coast of Girona –without any wind turbines on its land surface–, and that could be viable here in the future. «Right now in Terres de l'Ebre, due to the wind conditions, yes, it would be possible to install mills on the coast, but it is in a very small portion. In Tarragona there is no possibility right now but there could be in the future, "says Morron.

But more important than what is already underway is what is to come and there the province is also emerging as an attractive place. 45% of the wind turbines in Catalonia that are in the pipeline (63 of 139) are in Tarragona. Of course, there are as many as only those that are planned in La Segarra (Lleida), a region that is booming. Half of the wind farms that are processed are also in the Tarragona regions (15 out of 30).

The renewable energy sector calls for greater agility in the processing of projects

El Perelló, Tivissa or Vilalba dels Arcs host some of these proposalsof smaller dimensions, and managed by the Generalitat; The Ministry for Ecological Transition does the same with the larger parks, those with more than 50 MW, which in this case are projected in places like Santa Coloma de Queralt, Flix, Ascó, Conesa or Vinebre.

Beyond these data from the Department, the scenario will change shortly. There are at least four wind farms under construction, in Baix Ebre, Terra Alta and Garrigues, which will start up before the end of the year. They are prior to the entry into force of the decree of 2019 that accelerated the implementation of renewables. They were authorized around 2010. They were not feasible without premiums and now the technological improvement does allow them to be profitable and have succeeded. Also another in the Coll de la Teixeta, between Priorat and Baix Camp, it should start working in 2023 and could increase the wind power of Catalonia by 100 MW.

ebrense wind power

Other statistics show that the province will continue to be very relevant for the energy transition compared to other territories. Regarding the wind capacity in the portfolio pending the public information process, Lleida brings together 46% of the powerahead of Terres de l'Ebre, with 17%. In Tarragona the figure is 3% and in Barcelona 1%.

Catalonia has gone from total paralysis to progress judged insufficient. Now a year has passed since the new government decree. Since then, not a single new wind farm has been approvednot only in Tarragona but throughout Catalonia. Yes indeed, The wind energy association celebrates the unlocking which already began with Decree Law 16/2019, of November 2019, which "recovered the interest of investors in Catalonia and which was very important to put us on the map".

In Catalonia there are 811 wind turbines operating. 521 of them, 64%, are located between the Camp de Tarragona and the Ebre

The sector asks for less bureaucracy and greater administrative agility. «The advances are good news, but we would have to go faster. To give an example, the last authorized plant it has taken 711 days to have the permits. And that the Department has said that since it was a small project it did not need an environmental impact study. We are in the last decade that we have to react and not to depend on others. Also, Renewables are a vehicle to reduce inflation», points out Jaume Morron.

The Department admits the delays, especially due to the legacy of a decade of stagnationworks to lighten procedures and pokes chest in the balance of the year of the last decree. Remember that in the coming months four wind farms will be commissionedtotaling 101.29 MW, after only one wind turbine had been activated in the last ten years. In turn, the Government claims that there are 1,830 MW in the public information process in Catalonia, compared to the 60 MW before the entry into force of Decree Law 24/2021 or the 30 MW at the beginning of the legislature.

Despite the progress, the figures are still insufficient. Catalonia will have to increase production six times in eight years to reach the goal of 50% green in 2030. "The work ahead of us is great, but we believe that the political will is there," acknowledges Antoni Cavallé, president of the Anatrac i Inersis Group and CEO of Aplicaciones de la Industria Renovable SA and Ponentia Energia.

All the agents are clear about the path and the alternative, from the Generalitat to the sector itself. “Either we make the transition ourselves or they will make it to usfrom Aragon or from Europe”, predicts Marc Segura, coordinator of the Energy Commission of the Reus Chamber of Commerce and CEO of the Solcam Energia group.

The largest solar parks, in Conca de Barberà

30% of the photovoltaic energy that is currently being processed in Catalonia is located in Tarragona, according to the Department. Although the Generalitat has 116 projects in process, 36 of them in the Tarragona regions, the larger proposals stand out above all, those that depend on the Ministry of Ecological Transition. The main parks in all of Catalonia that are at this point in the process are planned in Conca de Barberà. There are five and they would add up to 368 hectares and 173 MW of power in the towns of L'Espluga de Francolí, Passanant and Belltall, Vallfogona de Riucorb, Montblanc and Vimbodí and Poblet.

Baix Ebre and Terra Alta, leaders of Catalonia

Most of the wind mills in the province are in the Ebre, specifically in the Baix Ebre and Terra Alta, the leading regions in implantation in all of Catalonia. Seven of the ten Tarragona counties have parks currently in operation, with the exception of Tarragonès, Baix Penedès and Montsià. Counties such as Conca de Barberà or Segarra (Lleida) will see the figures increase in the future.

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