Authorities signal support for offshore wind farms as critics remain unconvinced: 'We are disappointed'

Far behind on renewables, Catalonia needs 18 times more green MW for carbon neutrality

Projected plans for a wind farm off the Costa Brava (Courtesy of Stop Macro Parc Eòlic Marí)
Projected plans for a wind farm off the Costa Brava (Courtesy of Stop Macro Parc Eòlic Marí) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 7, 2022 12:09 PM

In a somewhat infrequent display of unity, both Catalan and Spanish authorities have expressed support for offshore wind farms, falling short, however, of openly backing contentious plans to possibly build one off the Costa Brava in northern Catalonia.

"We can't fool ourselves, we clearly need to build large facilities," Catalan climate action minister Teresa Jordà, who recently traveled to Denmark to visit one of the world's largest wind farms, said last Friday. 

And while it is not her department but the Spanish government that can regulate floating power plants, Jordà did say that the companies that hope to build one, the Parc Tramuntana, in Catalonia's Gulf of Roses, had been "adjusting" their proposal according to the Catalan government's suggestions.

Spain's ecological transition minister Teresa Ribera, meanwhile, said she was in favor of offshore farms in Catalonia, especially as the Ascó and Vandellòs nuclear power plants will have to shut down in the coming years: "We need to balance protecting the environment with the importance of not missing out on an opportunity."

Catalonia lags far behind other parts of Spain in terms of renewables, and yet aims to have 50% of all energy consumed in 2030 come from green sources. Currently at 19.8%, it could fail to meet this goal due to an overreliance on nuclear power and would need to generate 18 times more green megawatts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. 

According to the Catalan government's green energy transition plan, Proencat, which was made public on Friday, 2.5% of the territory's area will have to be used to generate renewables in just under thirty years' time, especially as solar panels for self-consumption "will not be enough."

Parc Tramuntana opponents – a hodgepodge of local councils, the Girona provincial authority, hotel and restaurant owners, fishermen, and environmentalists, among others – acknowledge the need to transition to greener energy sources, but are reluctant to get behind plans to build a floating wind farm in the Costa Brava.

"We are disappointed," a communiqué by the Stop Macro Parc Eòlic Marí platform, issued after the Catalan parliament blocked a far-left CUP resolution to halt plans to build Parc Tramuntana, reads. "We have the support of the scientific community, which has warned of the dangers of building a wind farm in an environmentally fragile area."

The group has vowed to take this issue to court if authorities ever give the project the go-ahead, calling on politicians "to find sustainable energy alternatives" that take into account the needs of the area's residents.