The municipality of Plasencia, in the province of Cáceres, has won the Eolo 2023 Award for Rural Integration of Wind Energy in its twelfth edition. It is a model municipality for its wind development, where the implementation of wind energy is being carried out with maximum harmony and compatibility with the rest of the economic, social, cultural and environmental activities of the territory. For this reason, the Wind Business Association (AEE) today presented this award to its mayor, Fernando Pizarro, in an event attended by residents, institutional representatives and businessmen in the area.
Plasencia is the pioneer municipality of Extremadura in implementing wind energy, thus opening the doors to winds of change in this autonomous community. The Merengue and Merengue II wind farms of the Naturgy company have been installed with the aim of integrating into the territory and assuming the responsibility of generating shared value for their neighbors, such as new employment opportunities and socioeconomic development, in addition to promoting initiatives focused on education.
Presentation of the Eolo Award for Rural Integration of Wind Energy
Fernando Pizarro, mayor of Plasencia, highlighted when collecting the award that “it is an award shared by everyone and I collect it on behalf of the city of Plasencia, which has taken a step at the forefront of coexisting with wind energy and its integration into the rural environment. The only two wind farms in Extremadura are in Plasencia and this milestone refers to the administrative complexity for its development and the change in concept thinking for its integration.” Pizarro wanted to remember that on this day, September 21, 1558, Emperor Charles V died in the Monastery of Yuste, near the city of Plasencia. He has related this important historical fact since Charles V represented the Spanish empire, making it grow to the confines of the new world, colonized by the ships in which many Extremaduran sailors went, moved by the energy of the wind. “The same one that today moves the wind turbines in the Sierra del Merengue to be part of the history and future of this cutting-edge land.”
Next, the president of AEE, Juan Diego Díaz, declared “this year is the first time we give the award to a city like Plasencia, until now they have always been rural environments. Wind energy is a source of wealth, fixes population and creates employment in its more than 1,000 parks throughout the national territory”. The president of AEE also wanted to point out that “wind power represents the No. 1 technology for installed power in Spain with more than 30 GW and covering a quarter of the energy that Spaniards consume per year.”
Juan Diego Díaz has congratulated Naturgy for having opened the way for wind development in Extremadura. Ana Isabel Ruiz, Naturgy’s Renewable Development delegate in Extremadura, was grateful that Plasencia hosted the company’s two wind farms installed in the town, with 26 wind turbines in total. “A project that was developed with a lot of effort, with the creation of hundreds of jobs in its construction and development, and with more than 80 million euros of investment, and the help of the Plasentino City Council, the Extremadura Energy Cluster, “the Junta de Extremadura, the Provincial Council of Cáceres, AEE, the land owners, and the Naturgy team, who will continue with their efforts to continue building renewable projects in this wonderful land of Extremadura so that it remains sustainable.”
Juan Virgilio Márquez, general director of AEE, concluded by highlighting the role of wind power in his mission to improve the Spanish energy future. “This award is a clear example of what can be done together to carry out a transition towards a renewable and sustainable future with the consensus of a city to continue working for renewable energies.”
Luis Fernando García Nicolás, Third Vice President and Infrastructure Area Deputy of the Provincial Council of Cáceres, and Raquel Pastor López, General Director of Industry, Energy and Mines of the Government of Extremadura, participated in the event.
Plasencia, pioneer municipality in wind development in Extremadura
Plasencia, north of the province of Cáceres, has a population of 39,247 inhabitants. For more than a decade there has been a trend towards depopulation in the area around the town. The social commitment and cooperation measures carried out by the Plasencia wind farms have become a useful tool to stop this trend.
The Plasencia City Council has seen its municipal coffers benefited thanks to the taxes it receives from the wind farms, reaching the sum of €4,512,017, an important source of financing for the municipality and which makes it possible to undertake higher quality actions and services that convert to Plasencia in a better city to live. In relation to employment, thanks to the installation of the parks, new jobs have been created, which has helped many young people with a technical profile to be able to develop their profession without having to leave the city.
In addition, wind farms help promote culture in the city, among other initiatives, sponsoring events such as the annual Plasencia Abierta Festival or the exhibition ‘The Ages of Man’, which this last year held its XXVI edition in Plasencia. .
Another important aspect is the improvement in accessibility to certain heritage elements, which are located in the surroundings of the projects thanks to the archaeological excavations that the park promoter carried out in coordination with the General Directorate of Heritage of the Government of Extremadura. .
In the environmental field, the city has benefited from actions such as the recovery of 20 hectares of the cork oak forest of the Monte Valcorchero Protected Landscape, close to the Monfragüe National Park, the creation of a midden, or the carrying out of studies and projects with environmental during the entire period of exploitation of the parks. In terms of social actions, we have helped alleviate the effects of energy vulnerability in the municipality, with the installation of photovoltaic self-consumption in the Monastery of Nuestra Señora del Puerto de Plasencia to help reduce its energy bill.
Education has been another of the fundamental aspects in which the implementation of wind power in Plasencia has collaborated. The company promoting the parks maintains a professional training program for employability promoted by the Naturgy Foundation, which in 2022 alone benefited around 3,100 Extremaduran students.
And all of the above is carried out with the utmost respect and integration of the wind energy generation activity with the traditional uses of the territory. Not only does the extensive livestock use that has always been part of the Sierra del Merengue continue, but it has also helped make it a more profitable activity, thanks to the improvement and adaptation of roads, fire protection measures and collaboration and mutual support for ranchers and wind farm staff.