Basque Fact of the Week: Basque-ing in Green Energy

Basques seem to always be looking outside of the box. The same spirit that led so many young men and women to leave their homes to search for a better life in the remote American West leads others to experiment with molecular gastronomy, to embrace punk rock, and to build a Guggenheim. It also drives the Basque Country to look for new sources of energy to power their modern society. Basque companies such as Iberdrola and Gamesa are pushing the frontiers of solar and wind energies and beyond.

The wave power plant in Mutriku. Image from Wave Energy Basque Country.
  • Even though the Basque Country is not known for its high winds, and the Basque Autonomous Community (Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, Araba) only represents 0.6 percent of Spain’s wind power, Iberdrola and Gamesa are the two biggest players in Spain in this space. Iberdrola already generates 143 MW of wind energy and is part of a joint venture to create new wind farms in the Basque Country. Other companies in the Basque Country are at the forefront of developing off-shore wind platforms.
  • Along with other companies, Gamesa is part of Windbox, an Advanced Manufacturing Center just outside of Eibar which aims to further develop wind power technologies and give Basque companies in this energy sector a competitive edge. Windbox provides testing facilities to examine the performance of various components of wind turbine systems.
  • Another surprise is the Basque involvement in solar. Given the constant grey skies and xirimiri that are so characteristic of Euskal Herria, one would think that solar has little role there. However, companies like Iberdrola are developing solar energy in other parts of Spain, such as two 400 MW solar parks Castilla-La Mancha. This is in addition to a 590 MW park in Extremadura.
  • Closer to home, the Basque Country is working to extract energy from the tides. Towns like Mundaka are famous for their surfing and the same waves carry a lot of energy that can be used to power local homes and businesses. In Mutriku, they are pioneering a wave-based power station, and have it connected to the grid, supplying enough energy to sustain about 600 people.

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