Neboada, Xeada, Treboada, Ventumelo and Orballeira…they do not proclaim wintertime in the Lands of Trives and Valdeorras. They are the names given to five wind farms currently under the authorization process on these lands. They are parks sharing technical, economic and business ownership ties. However, each of them follows a separate authorization process that will involve a strong investment in renewable power (almost 180 million euros) and an increase in installed capacity (216 MW). From the Galician Wind Observatory, we wonder what impact this will have on the dynamics of local development in these lands east of Ourense and south of Lugo. These are territories that have historically contributed to the production of renewable hydraulic energy. Moreover, their corresponding municipalities are suffering a very significant decline in population with levels of per capita income among the lowest in Galicia. Will these new projects be an opportunity to break with this declining trend in population and economic deterioration? Continue reading below for the full story.
In the attached figure you can see the main characteristics of these wind farms.
Each of the parks were separately submitted to the environmental authorization and evaluation process. However, they are fully connected parks (see the attached figure). Given that they share basic infrastructures, they cannot be understood individually. For example, none of the other four could exist without the Treboada substation. And without the Neboada substation neither would Xeada nor Orballeira.
The ownership structure of Wind Hero, S.L. consists in a single known shareholder, the mercantile company Aspemir, S.L., which has a 35% stake in the capital of Wind Hero, S.L. This same company, Aspemir, S.L., participates with the same percentage in the capital of Wind Grower, S.L., promoter of PE Treboada. In turn, the company Debamina, S.L. owns 7.21% of Aspemir, S.L., which participates in the capital stock of up to a total of 26 companies; the well-known tennis player Rafael Nadal Parera owns 99.35% of the company Debamina. A graphical representation of this structure is provided below.
Status of the administrative procedure
As may be easily concluded, the administrative procedure is extremely efficient. Companies that take between 2 and 5 months to go from being constituted as companies to having their wind project admitted to procedure. It is worth pointing out here that, as of 2017, regional regulations have established exclusion rights for third parties upon the Xunta’s admission of a project to procedure. In other words, we are in a case of extreme administrative and business efficiency: within an average of 3.5 months, thousands of hectares of lands in Ourense municipalities fell into the hands of these companies for wind farm exploitation.
It is hard to give an exact number, but an estimate can be made. If we consider the hours of operation indicated by the developers and we take the prices of the purchase published by Red Eléctrica Española, the figures are as follow.
According to these data, the estimation of the business generated from the 5 wind farms ranges from 64 to 139 million euros per year. No doubt these are dramatic figures for municipalities such as Castro Caldelas, Chandrexa de Queixa, San Xoán de Río, A Pobra de Trives, A Rúa, Vilamartín de Valdeorras, Ribas de Sil and Quiroga.
We must remember that over 166 MW of hydropower, producing thousands of renewable GWh, have already been installed in these town halls for decades: San Martiño, Santiago, San Clodio…
For months now, GWO has followed the business dynamics of the companies, their on-site representatives and the landowners.
The negotiation mechanisms and the figures on the table are not equivalent or proportional to the expected volume of business, the profits and the occupation of space by the companies. A brief explanation follows.
In the first place, companies offer a single lump-sum payment for occupations due to various easements. This is unheard of in Galicia (leaving expropriations aside). In our database, all wind farms establishing an easement pay an annual amount to their owners. In addition, the regional regulations will modify the urban classification of the land, limiting their use in some cases and prohibiting them in others. This means that landowners lose rights permanently. The company wants to compensate this with a one-time single payment. In addition, the company will not pay anything at all for most of the area associated to the exclusion of competitors, not even a one-time single payment. Plus, the owners of the land lose the option to negotiate with third parties.
Secondly, the amounts offered per MW installed would be one of the lowest values of all wind development in Galicia: 2,000 euros per MW is far from the Galician average and light years away from some agreements signed over the recent months (see chart below).
Can we expect changes in the population trends of these municipalities as a result of the arrival of these wind farms? Unfortunately, history shows us that the dominant wind model in Galicia is not useful for correcting territorial imbalances. Neither is it for opening up opportunities for rural communities nor for providing better public services to rural citizens.
From the Galician Wind Observatory, we have been demanding structural changes in the support models for renewables for years to permit the compatibility of the decarbonization of the economic system with sufficient doses of equity and justice in order to define non-exclusive development strategies that leave no one behind. To date, the prevailing model leaves rural areas without the required compensations. Moreover, injustices to the rural world and its local communities are even greater with the exacerbated protagonism of foreign and seemingly speculative capitals and solutions falling from the sky at an unimaginable rate that has never been witnessed until now.