The Energy Transition Plan of Canary Islands (Ptcan) reserves a potential area of 125 square kilometers in Tenerife to develop renewable energies, mainly wind power on land, with the installation of wind turbines, but also photovoltaics. The document of Government of the Canary Islands prioritizes these new wind turbines in the southeast of the Island, specifically in the coastal area of this area that coincides with the municipalities of Güímar, Fasnia, Arico and Granadilla de Abona. The threshold is set at the “total decarbonization” of the Canary Islands by 2040, with a previous projection in 2030, “through a profound change in the energy system.” The forecast also takes other factors into account, such as the electrification of vehicles. The councils from Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura have submitted allegations to the text that is on public display.
The Tenerife Council launched its proposal through a report that questions the document globally and covers almost all island areas, from the Natural Environment to Industry, passing through Tourism, Territorial Planning or Mobility. The insular corporations of the two eastern islands focused, among other things, on the public or private ownership of the future land destined to install renewable energies and the more than probable interest of the large multinational energy companies in accessing the land and to business.
The Energy Transition Plan emanates from the Canary Islands Law on Climate Change, approved in September last year, and represents a step for the development of this regulation. The PTCAN establishes the criteria for the location of renewable energy facilities, with a validity of ten years, although it can be extended for a longer time or reviewed after five years. What the Plan contains “must be mandatory”. It is now in the process of initial approval and public exposure. The deadline for presenting claims ended on July 21, but it was extended by one month until the next day 23. The document has also gone through the mandatory Integrated Environmental Impact Study, which the regulations require for all planning.
“The powers in this area of the regional Executive, responsible for the Energy Transition Plan, are scarce, since they fundamentally correspond to the State.” This is stated by an expert, a PhD in Physical Sciences from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Professor of Applied Physics at the University of La Laguna and Director of the University Master’s Degree in Renewable Energies at the ULL, Ricardo Guerrero Lemus. Guerrero expands his reflection: “The Climate Change Law itself has caused controversy between the regional and Madrid Executives.” He emphasizes that “the Government of the Canary Islands has tried to place certain demands on public administrations and the State proposes that it not be conditioned in this regard because it is precisely its competence.” For example, the person who was an insular councilor for the PSOE insists, «when it comes to launching and developing certain contests. That’s a debate.”
Guerrero points out: “A new government enters the Canary Islands and it will be necessary to see if it understands that this document is valid or decides to review it, stop it or even change it.” He emphasizes that “it is the Executive that elaborates it and it is not a legislative matter of the Parliament of the Canary Islands even if he realizes it.” He considers that it is “a dilemma” because “he already has the environmental impact report that takes about 18 months to prepare and if it is changed, it would have to be done again. I think this is what will happen.”
Regarding the specific case of Tenerife, Ricardo Guerrero points out that unlike previous tools, “this one touches on many new points” but “the philosophy is the same: the decarbonization of the Island with the threshold set at 2040 and an intermediate point that is year 2030».
«The goal is decarbonisation in 2040 with an intermediate point in 2030»
There are two horizons in forecasting. Either a more accelerated scenario with current technologies or a softer one thinking about those that could arrive in the future. There is talk of options such as geothermal energy but it focuses above all on the fields of renewable energy, photovoltaic and wind power – on land, not marine off shore –, the cheapest. “It’s logical because people don’t want to pay for more expensive electricity,” says Ricardo Guerrero. He adds: “Neither Government of Spain you will want to have more expenses, even if it is only 3% or 4% of the electricity generated.” “Fuels are also considered, and that is where hydrogen or the electrification of vehicles come in,” stresses the professor. He states: “The plan is quite complete and presents a novelty compared to the previous ones that gives it greater value: the maps by areas that did not previously exist.”
Translating the zoning is, in the words of Ricardo Guerrero, “very simple. It is about placing on the map what remains after ruling out the installation in protected natural spaces, 48% of the Island, and the surroundings of urban population centers to rule out the installation. In the latter case, “especially in wind power due to noise and other factors such as the fact of generating shadows” he adds. What the Government does with very powerful current geographic information tools is, Guerrero points out, “define a series of areas in a general way, but leaves the island councils the task of specifying in detail where to place or not these possible energy resources.” In Tenerife, these areas, says the expert, “are quite clear, at least with regard to wind power, since before the preparation of this document.” The trade wind comes from the Northeast with an accelerated effect and the Teno Rural Parks would be ideal, above all, and Anaga, as they form geographical corners, but it is not possible as they are protected spaces. Therefore, we must focus on the land that the Territorial Planning Plan of Tenerife (PIOT) defines as Territorial Protection, the cheapest and quite arid ». Here the delimitation is clear. Wind power is focused on the southeast area, that of the 220 Kw double security circuit that runs along the midlands and coasts between the Las Caletillas, Candelaria, and Granadilla power plants.
Regarding photovoltaics, Guerrero points out that “a large bag in Guía de Isora, an area of significant agricultural wealth, and another in the lower part of Vilaflor” caught my attention. He considers that he responds to the idea of “locating generation sources on the other side of the Island, in the south, where there is a great demand for electrical energy. But it is also valid for the north because the final objective is to reinforce the closure of the insular energy ring ».
Guerrero also values that «voltaic photo produces more with less temperature. On the contrary, the wind, since the air is less dense, if it is carried upwards it produces less. The more dense, the more energy and therefore the wind turbines must be as close to the coast as possible. In addition to these areas, within the 125 square kilometers of the reserve, another area stands out in the area around Bajamar, in the municipality of La Laguna. A nod from Guerrero to the future: “Offshore wind would mean generating more energy because water has a thousand times more density than air. Anything that moves the surface a little generates a lot of energy. The one of the currents can be the option ».
Wind or photovoltaic?
The plan allocates in its projection 125 square kilometers for wind turbines with the discarding of natural spaces and those close to population centers. Ricardo Guerrero explains that “the historical trend of the Government of the Canary Islands is to bet more on wind than on photovoltaic. In principle it is designed to put the generation business in private hands. He stresses: “A process that would be faster and cheaper for the public administration.” He reflects: «I am a defender of self-consumption and before the rustic soil it would be necessary to remove the roofs of the houses. It would always be done in phases, first self-consumption and where we cannot reach the use of rustic land would be allowed. He emphasizes the idea to conclude: «We are going to take advantage of what is already anthropized –transformed by human beings– which is also where people consume. There are many large companies pending land and other things. His argument is that it is more complicated to agree with the neighboring communities than to place wind farms ».
Far from the marked objectives
The introduction of renewables in the Canary Islands is increasing, but not enough, since it barely reaches 27% of all the energy generated. This represents 6.6% more than in 2019 (20.4%) but is far from the forecasts of the 2030 Agenda. According to Red Eléctrica de España, the Archipelago has a production of 888 megawatts through the green energy: hydraulic, hydro, wind, solar and others. Wind power and photovoltaic account for 94.5% of the total. Wind power is the renewable source with the highest installed power, 650 megawatts, 51% more than in 2019, when 431 came from wind turbines. Self-consumption was the key to the growth of photovoltaics by 32%, going from 167 megawatts in 2019 to the current 220. The installed power in the Islands has grown by 44% in four years to reach 888 megawatts. The goal of 60% penetration of renewables on the threshold of 2030, as established in the Transition Plan, is still far away. The Climate Change Law, approved in the last legislature, determined to reach 90% in 2040. Gran Canaria is the Island with the highest installed capacity of renewable energies, with 378.65 megawatts, followed by Tenerife, with 373.65. Photovoltaic self-consumption has grown exponentially on this Island. From 1.5 megawatts in 2019 to 35 today. | JDM