Solar energy in Spain

Small Spanish village Bullas becomes leading example in solar energy

According to a report in El Mundo today, small Spanish village in the province of Murcia called Bullas, until now known only for its wines, has become a leading example in renewable energy. The solar field in Bullas first began to function in November 2007 generating 21% of the total energy required by this municipality, the equivalent of 42% of the energy required by all households.

According to the spokesperson for Gehrlicher Solar, Fernando Sacristán, the use of this solar field has led to a reduction of CO2 emissions by 8000 tonnes per year in line with the requirements set out in the Kyoto Protocol.

Another advantage of the use of the solar field is that part of the energy produced by the solar panels is used by a nearby water plant which provides irrigation to the surrounding land. The solar panels account for 30% of the plant’s electricity consumption. Part of the land where the solar plaques are located is owned by the local town hall and part is owned by landowners from the area.

The profits from the solar field are being invested in a training workshop on solar energy and there are several solar powered open-air cooking facilities where people can go to have picnic. These cooking facilities can boil a litre of water in 6 minutes.

The solar field is the result of an agreement between Gehrlicher Solar and Bullas town hall run by PSOE. It is managed by Ecoparque Solar de Bullas, a business consisting of 70 small investors from Murcia and provides employment to 15 people.
At present a project of expansion which hopes to double the number of solar panels within a year and a half is underway. In addition, there are plans to install solar panels on public buildings such as schools, sports centres and the town hall itself.

According to Fernando Sacristán ‘the environmental impact of these panels is minimal given that the panels are not permanently fixed and if there is a problem or one breaks down then it can be removed and replaced easily without leaving any waste behind’.

Until now wind has been the preferred source of renewable energy in Spain, and increasing areas of land in Castilla la Mancha and northern Spain have had windfarms installed. However solar energy has taken longer to become an established source of eco-friendly energy, despite the fact that many areas of Spain enjoy more hours of sun per year than most other European countries. The price of solar energy systems for private use has only recently started coming down, making it possible for more and more homeowners to consider the possibility of installing panels. And recent solar energy initiatives like this one reported in El Mundo , aswell as similar ones we have seen in Zaragoza and Albacete offer further proof that Spain may be starting to recognise the country’s huge potential to generate renewable solar energy.