Carlos Mazón, president of the Valencian Community: “The Valencian Community wants to lead the energy transition with photovoltaics as the protagonist”

The Spanish Photovoltaic Union, UNEF, held today, July 9, in Valencia, the Sustainability and Photovoltaic Plants Conference, with the aim of promoting the development and integration of solar energy within the framework of a fair and sustainable energy transition . The event included several dialogue and debate tables in which good practices were exchanged between experts, sector professionals, regional legislators and civil society to accelerate the presence of photovoltaics in the region.

The Conference, which has had a great institutional presence with Carlos Mazón, president of the Valencian Community, as its highest representative, has highlighted the capacity of solar energy to transform the Community, generating new opportunities for biodiversity and citizens, as well as the needs of the sector to be able to expedite cumbersome administrative procedures that hinder the greater implementation of photovoltaics in the region.

“Solar energy allows us to produce everything we are and everything we want to be. We are on the path towards a modernization of the Community’s energy model but we are aware that we must move from reflection to action. The future, the next decades of this land, depend on it,” said Carlos Mazón, president of the Valencian Community during the opening of the day.

Understanding the importance of solar energy in the Valencian Community to create socio-economic opportunities, fight against the climate emergency and attract industry, “it is time to act in a coordinated manner between the public and private sectors to reverse the figures that place the Valencian Community in a disadvantageous position compared to the rest of the communities when it comes to solar energy,” Benjumea remarked, during the opening of the event.

“We have more hours of sunshine than the rest of the countries around us, specifically the Valencian Community has twice as many hours of solar radiation as Germany, which makes solar energy projects twice as competitive.

We also have land available and fully compatible with other economic activities: currently, solar energy projects in the region occupy only 0.2% of the agricultural and livestock surface, as confirmed a few days ago by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. Furthermore, our technology is flexible, economically accessible and has the highest possible social and environmental integration ratios,” explained Rafael Benjumea, president of UNEF.

In addition to the great institutional presence, Salomé Pradas, Minister of Environment, Water, Infrastructure and Territory, Nuria Montes, Minister of Innovation, Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Generalitat Valenciana, were some of the representatives who participated, the Conference included of environmental experts, such as the representatives of the consulting firm EMAT and the environmental groups present at this event, to continue providing knowledge to an entire sector, which is not capable of understanding this opportunity without generating real value for the environment and for the set of citizens.

There are still challenges to face in the region

One of the main conclusions of the Conference has been that the Valencian Community still has some challenges to face on the path towards accelerating the energy transition and that is that, in 2023, the percentage of presence of solar energy in the energy mix of the community is notably lower than the rest of Spain: in 2023 it was 3.6%, while in the rest of Spain it reached 14%.

“Despite the good pace we are achieving in meeting the objectives that mark the energy transition at the national level, in the Valencian Community we must continue working to accelerate the activation of all the available resources that we have at our disposal: self-consumption in all the buildings that where possible, energy communities in industrial environments, many small and medium-sized distributed generation plants and a certain number of larger plants where environmentally viable,” reflects the president of UNEF.

In recent weeks, the Generalitat has launched a specific working group to accelerate the processing of renewable energy projects, in general, and solar energy, in particular, so its creation and implementation has been one of the main topics to be discussed at the Conference: “this is, without a doubt, a good starting point. Today we have sent a strong message: companies, public institutions and society must work together to continue progressing towards our goal,” Benjumea recalled.

Solar energy, guarantee of opportunities

During the Conference, three mayors of towns with photovoltaic projects in the Valencian Communities participated, María Llanos, Mayor of Pozo Lorente, José Vicente Anaya, Mayor of Ayora and Loren Amat, Mayor of Monóvar, to tell about their positive experience with solar energy. The socio-economic opportunity that this technology represents for the region has become clear.

A competitive advantage provided by photovoltaics that has already become a true lever of transformation for our country and this region. In 2022, solar energy projects employed 197,383 people in Spain and in 2023, it is expected to exceed that. “

Currently, the Valencian Community already has good examples of reindustrialization motivated by the potential of solar energy in the region. This is the case of the Sagunto electric battery gigafactory, which will create, according to its promoters, 3,000 high-quality direct jobs and up to 9,000 indirect jobs.

Through the presentation of results of the III Report on Sustainability and Photovoltaic Plants by the consulting firm EMAT, it has become clear that photovoltaics also represents an opportunity for the biodiversity of the Valencian Community. “Photovoltaic plants can host a diversity similar to and even greater than that of their surroundings or that of the site itself before installation since, due to the area they occupy, and through appropriate design and management of the project, they can make of them a refuge for biodiversity”, stated Santiago Martín-Barajas, author of the study.

EMAT determines, for the third consecutive year, that these projects are especially home to the presence of birds, highlighting some steppe species of singular interest such as the curlew, the roller, the owl, the kestrels (common and lesser), and the red-necked nightjar. Among the studies carried out, the flyover of the ortega sandgrouse that uses the corridors enabled in said plants to feed and a notable presence, normally in flight, but also perched or feeding, of birds of prey (vultures, eagles) has also been detected. , kites, harriers, hawks, owls, etc.).

UNEF Seal of Excellence in Sustainability

To make these opportunities a reality, UNEF created in 2020 the first global certification that measures and defines good practices around the socioeconomic impact and relationship with biodiversity of solar energy projects.

During the Conference, the UNEF Seal of Excellence in Sustainability was presented, which already has more than 40 certified plants throughout the Spanish territory and 12 projects in the Valencian Community. “This certification, as well as the projects that have achieved it, demonstrate that what is common in our sector is to work with the excellence that is required to achieve a fair and sustainable energy transition for all people,” recalled Rafael Benjumea, president of UNEF.