Navarre develops its own strategy to boost electric vehicles

“Spain is currently undergoing a renewable-energy revolution, with the Navarre region set to be the first in Europe to be self-sufficient in renewable energy”. The US rating agency Standard & Poors, in a current investigation of standard of living in Europe, ranked Navarre, whose primary source of renewable energy is wind power, uppermost among the 17 autonomous regions of Spain. Navarre, Europe’s sixth largest producer of wind energy, currently sustains approximately 70 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources, wind farms being used most extensively, and has a 900-megawatt capacity of installed wind power, ranking it ahead of the UK, Sweden, and France.

Navarre lacks thermal, nuclear, coal, oil, gas fields, or hefty hydro-electric power stations, but does possess considerable renewable resources, which the Government of Navarre pursued to drop its foreign energy dependence. “Navarre’s economic success is a function of its small population (only 500,000 people), low unemployment, rich agricultural traditions, and most recently, a boom in rural tourism”.

Navarre was entirely reliant on imported energy until wind-power development and utilization began progress in 1996. Now, with its own renewable energy companies, such as Acciona, projects are underway including the proposal of building the biggest offshore wind power production facility in the world in southwestern Spain on the spot of the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar.

The Government of Navarre has accepted the invitation, to bet on the electric car. Esteban Morrás, one of the most respected nationally in the field of renewable energy, launched a few weeks ago the message in the UPNA.

Alvaro Miranda: "Having been pioneers in renewable energy, we can not let this train." "We have to make a firm commitment by the introduction of the electric car because it is the future, we can not stand," he said after warning of the risk of falling into complacency.

The government’s economic vice Alvaro Miranda, says that within two or three months of this new year will Navarra outlined its own strategy to boost development of electric car.

To do this, it is involved in the project to all economic and social actors who can contribute, from the CENER, the National Renewable Energy sector companies (between her Acciona, Gamesa, Ingeteam, etc..) the VW car plant-Navarra, utilities, local authorities and universities. And join all the initiatives already being implemented at national or European level.

"We must implement our own strategy to continue taking the initiative," said Miranda. "The advantage of Navarra is we’re all about and we are flexible to work together from the public and private initiative. Having been pioneers in renewable energy and wind energy, we can not let this train that passes through our door."

In fact, Modern Plan, an ambitious experience to identify and develop future-oriented fields of the economy of Navarre, seen as one of the bets the developing of "green economy" that includes among its projects work in the field of electric vehicles .

According to the experts of modern design and other voices (quite recently Professor Luis Sarries also claimed involvement in this bet) the development of electric car can be an opportunity also for industrial development in Navarre. Do not forget the existence of a powerful auxiliary sector both automotive as renewable energy, who might be interested in this field.

Furthermore, the future electric car that is being designed (cars whose batteries can be recharged at night in the garage) can bind to the renewable energy market because right now, wind energy production that is generated at night is very difficult to exploit the low demand for electricity at night. Something that could change if this system is generalized as automotive fuel.

Esteban Morrás, until few days ago CEO of Acciona Energy, recently quantified the electricity needed to power the electric vehicles market: "If in 2030 we had 400,000 electric cars in Navarra, only the production of wind farms of Valdorba feed consumption of these electric vehicles. "

Over the past 15 years, Spain’s Navarre region has undergone the sort of energy transformation President Barack Obama dreams of creating in America. In the process, the home of Pamplona’s running of the bulls has proved that a green jobs movement can pay off in GDP.

Navarre’s energy numbers are staggering: A full 65 percent of the region’s energy now comes from renewable sources. By 2010, it expects to reach 75 percent, and it has a goal of becoming completely energy self-sufficient. Obama’s goal of more than doubling the United States’ renewable energy use to 25 percent by 2025 pales in comparison.

That clean energy sector now supports nearly 100 companies, a research center, a technical school specializing in renewable technologies, and employs about 2 percent of the region’s active workforce. It contributes about 5 percent to Navarre’s gross domestic product, and as early as 2003, the European Union recognized Navarre’s policies as the best in the renewable energy sector.

“As far as environmental benefits are concerned, since 2000, clean energies have avoided atmospheric emissions of over 20 million tons of CO2,” Navarre President Miguel Sanz Sesma said.

With a population of only about 600,000, the region is small enough that they were able to bring the major stakeholders from business, science, local governments and the citizenry together to create a collaborative energy plan with nearly universal buy-in. Navarre also has enough autonomy from the Spanish government that it could act without delays and excessive red tape.

Navarre started its mission toward energy independence with a 1995 energy plan that set a goal of creating 341 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2000. The regional government built public-private partnerships with banks and industries to begin constructing a renewable energy sector at home (the wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa Eolica was a product of the collaborations). The regional government also provided tax credits and financial aid to encourage investment in renewable energy assets, and officials emphasized energy efficiency and conservation to the population.

Within five years, Navarre had nearly doubled its goal, reaching 667 MW of renewable energy capacity. Today, Navarre’s wind power—46 percent of its total renewable energy—is on track to reach 1,400 MW by 2010. The regional government also offers incentives to encourage energy efficiency, such as grants to buy electric vehicles or replace old home applicances, and even courses in efficient driving.