Barcelona rally against large renewable energy plants attracts dozens

Demonstrators complain 16/2019 decree does not protect natural landscapes or cultural heritage

'Not like this!' reads a sign held by a woman at a protest against large renewable enery projects in Barcelona (by Carola López)
'Not like this!' reads a sign held by a woman at a protest against large renewable enery projects in Barcelona (by Carola López) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 2, 2021 05:27 PM

A few dozen people gathered in Barcelona's Plaça Sant Jaume, where the Catalan government and Barcelona council headquarters are located, on Sunday to express their discontent with large renewable energy projects as well as to defend the small towns that "suffer" their negative consequences.

According to the protesters, the 16/2009 decree-law on urgent measures for the climate emergency and the promotion of renewable energies should be repealed because it does not, in their opinion, protect natural landscapes or cultural heritage.

The 2017 Catalan climate change law, on the other hand, specifies that new renewable energy plants should be constructed in areas already affected by human activity.

Those who attended the demonstration organized by Catalonia's Small Towns' Association (Associació de Micropobles de Catalunya) and the Network for Energy Sovereignty (Xarxa per la Sobirania Energètica) say they are in favor of the energy transition but "not the way it is currently being carried out."

Irene González, of the Network for Energy Sovereignty, told the press that this process should be "more democratic."

"We want an energy model that is closer to the land and that is not in the hands of large companies that make wind farm and solar energy projects without taking into consideration ecological, social, or environmental criteria," González lamented.

Ideally, they argue, wind farms and solar power plants should be smaller and closer to where energy is consumed and that authorities should promote self-supply.  

"What we need to do is put solar panels on rooftops," said Jaume Pedrós, of the Farmers' Union (Unió de Pagesos). "There are many industrial estates with asbestos roofs where they could be installed," he said, adding that "no farmer should have to give up their land."

Catalonia's renewable energy goals

50% of all energy consumed should come from renewable sources by 2030a figure that needs to increase to 100% by 2050 according to the 2017 Catalan climate change law.

In 2020, only 19.8% of the energy produced in Catalonia came from renewables. A year earlier Catalonia's 16% paled in comparison to Spain's 36.9% and the EU average of 35.1%.

Podcast on renewables debate in Costa Brava

Press play below to learn about how this issue is playing out in the Gulf of Roses, in northern Catalonia, where SENER and BlueFloat Energy want to build a large floating wind farm 14 kilometers off the coast.