- José Luis Escudero, Councilor for Sustainable Development, highlighted that since the beginning of the legislature, 1,000 million euros have been mobilized around renewables and 5,000 jobs have been created in the region.
- For Rosa Melchor Quiralte, Mayor of Alcázar de San Juan, a photovoltaic plant is a way of generating collective wealth in the municipality.
- Photovoltaic plants make it possible to carry out projects that positively change the city and strengthen its industrialization with budgetary independence, stressed Julián Nieva Delgado, Mayor of Manzanares.
- All the speakers agreed that the climate emergency requires the development of photovoltaic energy, so that emissions can be reduced with an indigenous, cheap, environmentally friendly energy that can contribute to the reindustrialization and economic recovery of the country.
- During the conference, organized in collaboration with the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha and attended by more than 200 companies from the sector, it was made clear that it is essential to integrate the plants into the environment with the best socioeconomic and environmental criteria, generating shared value, reaching alliances with the actors involved and making an effort in communication and awareness-raising with the local community.
Madrid, February 23, 2022 | The Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF) held yesterday in Toledo an open and free conference in collaboration with the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha attended by more than 200 companies in the sector. The objective was to promote sustainability and criteria of excellence in the environmental and socioeconomic development of photovoltaic plants as well as to present the positive experience of specific examples of municipalities in Castilla y La Mancha.
The event follows the signing between UNEF and the government of La Mancha last December of a collaboration protocol for the implementation of the objectives of decarbonization of the regional economy, through the promotion of renewable energies and their socialization through formulas such as self-consumption, which once again demonstrates the commitment of the Spanish Photovoltaic Union with the social and environmental sustainability of photovoltaic plants.
The conference, which took place at the Toledo Conference Center, began with the inauguration by José Luis Escudero, Councilor for Sustainable Development, and Jose Donoso, General Director of UNEF. Escudero stressed that the challenge of mitigating and adapting to climate change cannot be understood without photovoltaics. "Investing in renewable projects helps to create wealth in the territory; it attracts income for local entities, creates jobs, and socioeconomically reactivates the areas where they are implemented, fixing companies and population", he said. In this respect, he pointed out that since the beginning of the legislature, 1,000 million Euros have been mobilized around renewable energies and 5,000 jobs have been created in the region.
For his part, Donoso pointed out that "excellence must be sought in the performance of all companies in the sector". "Photovoltaic energy is the most sustainable," he defended. "We are the guarantee of a better future. It is essential that companies, institutions and citizens collaborate together in the success of a fair and sustainable transition. The alliance between territory, population and solar plants is necessary", he pointed out while emphasizing that Castilla-La Mancha is carrying out vital work for the promotion of renewable energies, especially solar energy.
Manuel Guirao, Director General of Energy Transition of Castilla-La Mancha, stressed that photovoltaic is going to be fundamental in the coming years and that it is necessary that we are all committed to "doing things right".
Eugenio Jesús Domínguez Collado, Deputy Directorate General for Environmental Assessment, of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, MITECO, spoke first to insist on the need for developers and specialized consultants to carry out environmental impact studies in the best possible way to speed up the work of the administrations. In this sense, he warned that right now in the General State Administration there are 667 renewable projects to be processed, of which only 176 have reached the General Sub-Directorate of Environmental Evaluation.
Domínguez Collado advised, among other things, that the study of the carrying capacity of the territory should be well done in order to make the right choice between alternative areas, avoiding those of high sensitivity.
During the conference, UNEF highlighted the success stories in photovoltaic installations that are carried out in collaboration with the municipalities themselves and the Certification of Excellence for Sustainability and the conservation of Biodiversity in photovoltaic plants that the Association launched last year with the aim of promoting and recognizing projects carried out under the best criteria of social and environmental integration, which was presented by Alejandro Labanda, Director of Regulation and Studies, UNEF.
The event also included the presentation of two studies that demonstrate that photovoltaics is a commitment to biodiversity. Santiago Martín Barajas, Director of the consulting firm EMAT, author of the 'Biodiversity Study of birds and other species of fauna in three solar photovoltaic installations', who pointed out that "large photovoltaic installations, of tens or hundreds of hectares, can become a habitat for some animal species". "We have noticed, depending on the environment, that they are sites where there really is fauna," he added.
Manuela Andrés Abellán, Professor and Researcher in the Area of Environmental Technologies at the University of Castilla-La Mancha, author of another study limited to this Autonomous Community, explained that after the construction of a photovoltaic plant, the vegetation recovers, adopting the floristic composition of the surroundings of the installation, so that a richer and more diverse transition ecosystem is formed in the inner limits of a solar park, with characteristics similar to those of natural ecotones, which offers wide areas of refuge for insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds...
Benefits for municipalities
About local integration and the socio-economic impact, a subsequent round table discussion was held, moderated by Manuel Guirao, Director General of Energy Transition of Castilla-La Mancha, with the participation of Julián Nieva Delgado, Mayor of Manzanares, in Ciudad Real, and Rosa Melchor Quiralte, Mayoress of Alcázar de San Juan, Ciudad Real. Both spoke of the positive experience of their municipalities and agreed that it is necessary to count on the different agents of the sector.
For Rosa Melchor, a photovoltaic plant is a way of generating collective wealth. Also in the opinion of Julián Nieva Delgado, Mayor of Manzanares, who explained that after the experience in his municipality his conclusion is that "there is nothing negative in installing 1000 MW photovoltaic". In this sense, he emphasized that it allows them to carry out projects that positively change the life of the city and strengthen the industrialization of the city with budgetary independence.
Antonio González Jerez, ABC Delegate in Toledo and Castilla La-Mancha, moderated the round table discussion 'How to develop solar plants integrated in the natural environment'. Participants included Benito Montiel, Director of Promotion and Development of Grupo Cobra; Sergio Bonati, Climate and Biodiversity Officer, Climate and Biodiversity Officer, Climate and Energy Program, WWF Spain, and María Trinidad Navarro, Director of Business Development, Soto Solar.
The event continued with a discussion between Iñigo Sobrini Sagaseta de Ilurdoz, President of the Spanish Association of Environmental Impact Assessment; Helena Fernández Castro, Sustainable and Climate Change Manager at Isemaren, and Cristóbal Martínez, Biodiversity Manager at Ideas Medioambientales. They discussed best practices in environmental impact assessment and avifauna studies of solar plants in a colloquium moderated by Carmen Bachiller, journalist of eldiario.es Castilla-La Mancha.
All the speakers agreed that the climate emergency requires the development of photovoltaic energy, so that emissions can be reduced with an indigenous, cheap, environmentally friendly energy that can contribute to the reindustrialization and economic recovery of the country. To this end, they stressed that it is essential to integrate the plants into the environment with the best socioeconomic and environmental criteria, generating shared value, reaching alliances with the actors involved and making an effort in communication and awareness-raising with the local community.
The Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF) is the industry association for photovoltaic solar energy in Spain. Made up of more than 630 companies, entities and groups from the entire technology value chain, it represents more than 90% of the sector's activity in Spain and brings together practically all of them: producers, installers, engineering firms, manufacturers of raw materials, modules and components, distributors and consultants. UNEF also holds the presidency and co-secretariat of FOTOPLAT, the Spanish photovoltaic technology platform. The platform brings together universities, research centers and leading companies in photovoltaic R&D in Spain.