«The political class must be self-critical. We have lost a decade with renewables»

Under the title 'Towards a sustainable energy and production model' Yesterday, the Diari de Tarragona held the third of the colloquium debates of the cycle that began in July, in collaboration with the Generalitat. On this occasion, the challenge that the territory takes on the need to decarbonize the economy and generate green and renewable energy. The speakers were the Minister of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda, Teresa Jordà; the President of the Anatrac and Inersis Group and CEO of Applications of the Renewable Industry SA and Ponentia Energia, Antoni Cavallé; and the Coordinator of the Energy Commission of the Reus Chamber of Commerce and CEO of the Solcam Energia group, Marc Segura.

The three agreed on a diagnosis that was certainly worrying: a starting point where Catalonia is at the tail Regarding renewables, despite the progress made over the past year. The act also served to take stock of the first year of application of Decree Law 24/2021, which begins in speed up processing of renewables.

The director of the newspaper, Núria Pérez, opened the debate as moderator, qualifying as "little good news" the authorization of 100 MW of renewables but also establishing the huge margin for improvement, in many cases against the clock: production must be multiplied six-fold in eight years to reach the goal of 50% green in 2030. The councilor herself intoned the 'mea culpa' , speaking ofa lost decade: «I am not pointing the fingers at anyone, but the entire political class must be self-critical, we have to look at the country beyond the four years of the elections». He already did it precisely the day before in an appearance in Parliament to take stock.

How to replace the nuclear

The numbers talk for themselves. There are 1,830 MW in the process of public information compared to the 60 MW that had before the entry into force of the decree or the 30 MW from the beginning of the mandate. The evolution is positive but "the work ahead of us is very enormous", recognized Jordà. Antoni Cavallé admitted that "the political will is there" and, from pedagogy, gave examples of the dimensions of some projects (533 wind turbines or 5,500 hectares of photovoltaic to replace a nuclear power plant) to conclude that "There is much work to be done".

"We have a huge bureaucracy that only serves to lose patience and opportunities," says the councilor Teresa Jordà

One of the obstacles is the opposition of the territory to certain projects for its impact. An excerpt from the book was used to illustrate it. sovereign energy, by Jaume Morron and Ramon Tremosa: «Catalonia is a small country, with a lot of mountains, little wind, little flat land, a lot of people, a lot of industry and a lot of appreciation for our land». Cavallé introduced more examples: «Whoever gets the windmill in a town and can make a profit, is already doing well, he agrees, but there will be 70% of neighbors who don't and the City Council gets side by side with that majority . We have a major problem here."

Another of the most recurrent impressions of the debate was that of not taking trains in the past. “We have been losing opportunities for 20 years. We do not have an industrial fabric of wind turbine factories, blades. This work will be carried out by monstrous companies from the Spanish State that do not exist in Catalonia”, said Cavallé.

"If we don't carry out the energy transition, they will do it for us from Aragon or from Europe," explains Marc Segura, coordinator of the Energy Commission of the Reus Chamber of Commerce

As a whole, it's time to face late a path full of difficulties. This is how the councilor said it: «We must do pedagogy and count. If we don't, we won't change anything. We are in a revolution and there will be shocks, but we want to be fair, we will not do all this only from the Government ».

He compared the situation with the 19th century industrial revolution and repeatedly criticized the slowness in promoting renewable projects: We have a huge bureaucracy It is no use to lose patience and opportunities. You don't have to make it so heavy." Jordà admitted that «maybe we should go slowly, but the road is long” and wanted to explain “where we come from”: “We need to accelerate this transition because we come from ten years of unemployment. Then we find ourselves with a bubble of projects and burned territory.

Chemistry finds it very difficult to have proximity renewables to make the transition

defended «the new Catalan model, distributed, participatory and democratic» that prioritizes proximity projects, of less than 5MW but not only these. In the same way, large parks, self-consumption and energy communities are part of the complete equation. Marc Segura also took perspective: “We have already started an energy transition but it was unsuccessfula, no one believed it in the 2000s. Now the government cannot afford not to do it ».

The price of energy

Segura mentioned not only the motivation in terms of climate emergency but also the opportunity of private investment, beyond the participation of European funds: «Until 2030 private investment will be 2,200 million euros in photovoltaics, which is people's money. We have already seen that when the price of energy has risen, people have decided to bet on it.

“The work we have to do is very big but we believe that the political will is there”, acknowledges Antoni Cavallé, president of the Anatrac Group

Above all, two main debates remain. One of them is that of sovereignty and dependence. One of the usual ideas responds to the fact that Catalonia will hardly be able to cover its demand and will need "that it come from abroad, we will have to take advantage of the European network» said Cavalle. Segura acknowledges that, in terms of the negotiations to resolve conflicts around the projects, "no one will want the plaque or the mill in their garden, but there will have to be an arbiter, who must be the government, bearing in mind that we can't keep everyone happy». The alternative is not desirable. "Either we make the transition or they will do it for us, from Aragon or from Europe," said Segura.

The counselor herself also admitted it, in relation to the controversial Valmuel-Begues Very High Voltage line (MAT) planned to bring energy from Aragon to Catalonia and that has met with opposition from all over the territory and with a series of allegations to stop it: "If we don't want high voltage lines, we must do it ourselves".

This does not mean that part of the petrochemical sector, also present in the debate, did not show concern about this fight against the clock, for example when dealing with the Hydrogen Valley, a new philosophy that needs a lot of renewable energy to decarbonise industrial poles. Maria Mas, president of the Chemical Business Association of Tarragona (AEQT), stated: «We are addressing a transition and we have defined where we want to go. We are clear as a sector that in 2050 we want carbon neutrality, it is very clear. We must do it with known and efficient technologies. This will lead us to a just transition. We do not have and will not have renewable energyIt is to make this transition, no matter how fast we are in the implementation, let's not kid ourselves. We will have to live with other transitory situations that will take us towards the final goal.

“We do not have and will not have renewables to make this transition. We will have to live together but the ultimate goal will be to decarbonize chemistry in 2050", says Maria Mas, president of the AEQT

Antoni Cavalle alluded to "The great opportunity in hydrogen and biomethane" to try to get on this train, now: «Here we are at the starting line. We must seize this opportunity. We know that, we have the URV, we have the engineers, we have everything».

The other big problem the sector is facing is lack of labor and trained workers to perform these tasks. “We must put resources. Where is the training of people in a market that did not exist two years ago? Lack of human resources, installers»Marc Segura said.

Teresa Jordà even made calculations: “We are missing 18,000 installers every year. No one considered this because we were looking at the date of the elections. But also There is a lack of technicians in the municipalities that they know about the subject, and also the companies, which we will support, and more so considering that we are a country of SMEs». A notable representation of the political and business world attended the debate and a part formulated questions.

The mill, at the height of the romesco

Pedagogy also came out again when there was talk of landscape modification. Marc Segura gave as an example his climbs with his children in the Tossal de la Baltasana, the highest point in the Prades mountains. “There we see the Conca de Barberà mills, and my young children are used to it because it is what they have always seen.”

"We must pose the challenge of how to feel proud when we see a windmill, as if it were the calçot or the castells", explains Jordi Fortuny, deputy mayor of the Tarragona City Council

The first deputy mayor of Tarragona, Jordi Fortuny, raised the "challenge of how to introduce the fact that when we see a mill we feel as proud as the romescoof the calçots or the castells, because it is green energy and it is our energy».

Jordà concluded: «It has not been explained well. Nor more we will feel proud if we know it, if we make it ours». The councilor added: «If when an installation is made I as a citizen can participate and it compensates me in any way, you see it differently. If they have told me what they are going to do, if they have invited me, if they explain to me what it is for, that we are going to pay for cheaper electricity... surely we will understand it much better. Everyone, but the political class in particular, we should get red because we have not done pedagogy, which is extremely important.

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