The solar photovoltaic plant in Talayuela (Cáceres), one of the largest in Europe, came to the small municipality as a real “oxygen balloon”, in the words of the mayor himself, Ismael Bravo. Operated by Statkraft, Talayuela Solar poured its first kilowatt just a year ago, when the local economy was already showing severe symptoms of the pandemic.
In these twelve months, the 300 MW capacity project has become an important driver of local development. In total, it has produced 489,472 MWh of renewable energy, equivalent to supplying 148,000 households in a municipality of just over 7,300 inhabitants.
In a visit to the plant organized by UNEF (Unión Española Fotovoltaica), the sustainability director of Statkraft Iberia, Erica Morales, explained that the priority has been to hire local personnel. Proof of this is that $1.36 million (€1.2 million) were invested in local companies for the construction of the plant.
To this must be added the contribution to the municipal coffers in the concept of BICE and IAE and the actions of collaboration with the neighbors, such as the sponsorship of the Talayuela Football Club or their contributions to the food bank during the Covid-19 crisis. In total, “Talayuela Solar has meant an income of $2.3 million (€2 million) for the city council,” said Ismael Bravo, who also estimated about $680,000 (€600,000) for IBI.
During the months of construction, 326 jobs were created (75% men and 25% women), of which 262 were Talayuela residents. Special attention was also paid to minority groups: the gypsy population of the municipality occupied 18% of the jobs (about 8% were women) and 17% of the construction jobs were occupied by the foreign population of Talayuela.
Previously, Statkraft’s technical and engineering staff gave training courses to more than 300 people to provide basic criteria to the workers of the photovoltaic plant.
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The Talayuela plant, which has avoided the emission of 100,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in its first year, is a visible example of how native species and renewable technology can coexist in harmony. Of its 820 hectares, 312 hectares have been set aside for environmental protection, maintaining all the oak trees in the area, and recovering species that had disappeared.
To achieve this goal, Talayuela Solar has two artificial ponds that provide water resources for the animals, photo-trapping cameras for observation, floating islands with vegetation to favor the nesting of some species, and perches for herons.
It also has vegetation screens to reduce the visual impact of the panels, 25 shelters for reptiles and rodents, anti-robbery barriers, and nesting boxes with strategic positions and sizes, among other environmental measures.
Soon, it will introduce sheep, which act as natural weeding, and will create a Nature Classroom for the reception of visitors, an interactive exhibition, and a demonstrative training classroom.
Statkraft is currently developing new solar plants not only in Extremadura, but also in Andalusia – it is currently immersed in the construction of four new facilities in Cadiz, which will come into operation at the end of 2022 -, Valencia, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, and Murcia, in addition to advancing in its wind projects in Galicia, which total close to 500 MW.
Along with the Talayuela plant, the company also operates four solar plants in Alcalá de Guadaíra (Seville), which together have a total capacity of 200 MW and began producing clean energy in October 2020. Staktraft is also one of the leading players in the Spanish long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) market, with more than 40 contracts signed to date.
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First published in elEconomista.es, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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