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ecological transition threatens to open another gap between autonomous communities by the large differences in the promotion and development of new photovoltaic and wind installations depending on the territory. The data show that in the new 'boom' of the sector, which began in 2017 after years of regulatory standstill, only three regions monopolize 60% of the new megawatts that have come into operation in the country. These are Aragon, Extremadura and Andalusia, according to data collected by the renewables employer Appa.
The first of these autonomous regions has consolidated its position as the leader in wind energy by concentrating most of the wind projects installed in Spain in the last four years, many of these supported by the support of the different auctions of 'green' generation power called by the Administration. In addition to the 2,482 megawatts of wind power, there are another 1,262 solar power plants, which means that this region alone accounts for a quarter of the sector's renaissance.
In the photovoltaic sector, three autonomous regions are fighting to lead the sector. These are Extremadura, Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha. All three are immersed in a race to attract heavy investment to take advantage of their vast lands and abundant solar radiation to become the engines of the country's ecological transition.
But this race for renewables also leaves losers. In some cases, because they are small territories with little margin for the installation of renewable generation plants. This is the case of Madrid, which is nevertheless consolidating its position as one of the regions of Spain with the highest energy consumption.
In other cases, the installation of renewables is slowed down by the strict bureaucratic procedure for their installation or the harsh environmental laws that block their development. In the sector they denounce that this is the situation of Catalonia and the Valencian Community, which live on the facilities approved in the first decade of the century but lag far behind in the investment comparison since 2017 due to the obstacles imposed on companies, according to denounce sources in the sector.
The president of the Appa Renovables employers' association, Santiago Gómez,
warned during the celebration of the last congress of the association that this year there has been a pinch at a general level in the installation of renewables. "We are very far from the installation figures we need to meet the objectives of the National Energy and Climate Plan," he said alluding to the numbers: 3,500 megawatts installed in 2021 compared to the 5,400 that the country would require annually to meet the targets set by Brussels.
A large part of the reasons for this slowdown lie in the complex bureaucratic process that the installations must go through - with different procedures depending on each region - and the lack of means for approval and supervision in the Administration. "There are civil servants with 300 files on their desk that require a particular report, which can be of very different types: archeology, air safety, national security, railway infrastructure, hydrographic confederation...", explains José María González Moya
, Appa's general manager.
Behind this race to attract renewable investment is the aspiration of some autonomous regions to retain population in the municipalities considered as part of Empty Spain and to increase their tax revenues from the electricity generation derived from the facilities. In the first case, Appa itself estimates the contribution of renewables to GDP at 11,000 million euros and raises the number of direct and indirect jobs generated by the sector to 92,000. These jobs are linked to the installation of the renewable park itself and the industrial chain linked to its maintenance.
A report by the Spanish Wind Energy Association concludes that per capita income is generally higher in the towns in Spain where a wind farm is installed, and links this to the income derived from the leasing of the land itself and the tax revenues linked to its activity.
But not everything is positive. The strong growth of renewables in recent years has aroused unease in sectors such as livestock or agriculture, which denounce an invasion of these facilities that threatens their own economic activity. This rejection has begun to be grouped in platforms that demand a more rational integration of renewables and the obligation that they favor local development in return.