You have to go back to 2006, in the Port of Bilbao, to see the last wind turbines to be erected in the Basque Country. It will be 18 years later, in 2024, when a new infrastructure of this type will be put into operation. Two wind farms in Alava: one in Labraza, in the municipality of Oion, which also affects the autonomous community of Navarre, and which received final environmental authorization from the central government on Monday. The second, located in the mountains of Azáceta, also in Alava, near the municipality of Alegría, will receive the positive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the Basque Government in the next few days.
These facilities are promoted directly by the Basque Government through a company in which Iberdrola is a partner, Aixeindar. Both have 40 MW of power and consist of eight windmills. These are already known projects, but by setting a date for the works, they represent a historic and symbolic step. This is even more so for the Basque Country, which is highly dependent on foreign energy and whose renewable energy generation does not reach 10% of the energy it consumes, and which has set itself the target of raising this figure to 15% by 2030. For the Minister of Economic Development, Arantza Tapia, this is "good news" because "after a long time we can install more renewable facilities". Tapia pointed out that "we are working to reduce energy dependence and that means having more of this type of generation".
18 projects to double renewable generation
These two wind farms announced this Tuesday by the Basque Government would join those already in operation in the Basque Country. In Alava, those of Badaya and Elguea; and in Bizkaia, those of Mount Oiz and the Port of Bilbao. The Minister of Economic Development also highlighted that there are a total of 13 applications to develop wind farms in the Basque Country, with a total of 383 MW of power. In addition, there are 3 initiatives for photovoltaic panels, all of them in Alava. One of 40 MW, promoted by the Basque Government itself with Iberdrola in the Laminoria quarry, and two others of 50 MW each in the northeast of Vitoria, sponsored by the Executive together with Solaria.
Among the companies that have presented wind projects, besides Iberdrola, the Norwegian company promoted by the public administration Stakraft, Capital Energy, which has two projects; Itsaraz (located in the border between the three historical territories and more specifically between Aramaio and Eskoriatza) and Piaspe (projected in Azpeitia, Zestoa and Errezil) and which will install a headquarters in the Bizkaia Tower, or the company promoted by the businessman Pedro Barriuso, Euskal Haizie, stand out. There is also the off-shore wind farm project planned by Saitec on the Biscayan coast.
In total, the renewable projects total 18 in their different stages of development and represent 603 MW of renewable generation, which would more than double the current power currently in operation in the Basque Country, 580 MW. These 603 MW of new installations will require an investment of around 630 million euros and would enable the energy consumption of 448,000 homes to be supplied.
The Basque Government's commitment to the development of renewable energies is more than delicate. The general recognition of the need to promote this type of generation so as not to depend on external agents such as gas coexists in the Basque Country with a harsh rejection from many municipalities. Councilor Tapia has claimed on numerous occasions the need to promote these measures and has asked to speed up the processing times. In fact, the two wind farms for whose installation works the dates of 2024 and 2025 have been set were presented in autumn 2020, which will take five years at best to be in operation.
The Basque Government remains determined to promote renewable energies and multiplies by two in this year's Budget the amount of money for green generation projects in the Basque Country with companies such as Iberdrola or Solaria. According to the accounts of the Department of Economic Development for 2023, these investments reach 33 million.