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Carondio Wind Farm: a model of respect for the environment, archaeology and local communities

Carondio Wind Farm: a model of respect for the environment, archaeology and local communities

The Carondio wind farm in Pola de Allande (Asturias) has 50 megawatts in operation which gives Asturias a wind power production capacity of over 400MW, which is the equivalent of the electrical consumption of over 400,000 homes. The Carondio is the fifteenth wind farm to spin its blades in Asturias.

Although construction began in November 2009, it was June 2012 when the latest wind turbine in the Carondio wind farm achieved its operating permit. This park began as a paradigm of respect for the local towns and the environment, given that the blades were carried by helicopter during its construction in order to considerably reduce the effect on the environment and the inconvenience caused to local towns by the conventional transport of blades by truck which would have resulted in major works.

Innovation and caring for the environment and archaeological remains take centre stage in the new Carondio wind farm

The individual blades were stocked in a lot close to the town of Navia, 23 Km from the wind farm. The helicopter, an Erickson S-64 heavy load transporter was piloted by American experts and during suitable weather conditions could transport up to a total of 18 blades a day. The Carondio wind farm is the first Spanish wind farm and the second in Europe to use this new innovative assembly system.

Also, it complies with all environmental and archaeological protocols established by the Administration. In particular the following actions have been carried out:

  • Evaluation of inventoried goods in the wind farm’s environment:
  • Regular cleaning and conditioning of all catalogued archaeological elements in the area.
  • Archaeological excavations and dating of samples collected during said excavations.
  • Restoration of stretches of forest paths included in the prehistoric path of La Carreiriega de los Gallegos.
  • Placement of milestones, road signs and explanatory signs.
  • Execution of a Restoration Plan to restore the environment.

Environmental watch plan to verify compliance with requirements set in the Environmental Impact Declaration both during the construction and operating phases. The essential parts of this plan are:

  • Monitoring of bird life and bats.
  • Noise studies.
  • Monitoring of restoration development.
  • Waste management.

Thanks to wind turbine farms like Carondio, Spain is the current world leader in the construction and development of wind farms.

About the benefits of wind turbine energy

Wind turbine energy does not pollute, it is inexhaustible and slows the depletion of fossil fuels hence it contributes to the prevention of climate change. It is a fully mature and established exploitation technology. Also, it is one of the most cost efficient sources which allows it to compete in terms of profitability with other traditional power sources such as fossil fuel power plants (mainly coal, traditionally considered as the cheapest fuel) and even nuclear power when the cost of repair and environmental damage is considered. Another advantage of renewable energy and wind farms is that they remove exterior dependence. In this way they reduce losses due to transport costs and guarantee a self-owned power supply. They also guarantee the security of a national and regional power supply. With regards to electricity transformation, this is done with excellent performance and not via thermodynamic apparatus with consistently low Carnot performance. From an environmental point of view the generation of electrical energy without the presence of a combustion process or a thermal transformation phase makes it a very favourable process, given its cleanness and total lack of pollution problems, etc. The impact of fuel during its extraction, transformation, transport and combustion is eradicated thus benefiting the atmosphere, earth, water, vegetation, etc. There is a low impact on the soil’s physiochemical characteristics and erodability given that no soil contaminating element is produced and no great discharges or movement of earth is performed. The wind farm does not produce any alteration on aquifers due to consumption, or pollution by waste or discharges. Also, wind based electricity generation does not produce toxic gases or contribute to the greenhouse effect or acid rain. It does not produce dangerous by-products or contaminating waste. Each kWh of electricity generated by wind energy instead of coal avoids:

  • 0.60 Kg of CO2, carbon dioxide
  • 1.3 g of SO2, sulphur dioxide
  • 1.67 g of NOx, nitrogen oxide

All this in turn has a favourable effect on flora and fauna by diminishing the effects of climate change, acid rain and the emission of pollutants. Wind turbine energy and therefore wind farms like Carondio also present social and economic benefits. According to data gathered by the Renewable Energy Producers Association (APPA Spain) said energies generate 5 times more work positions than the conventional, which results in a positive socio-economic impact of notable magnitude both locally and nationally. Also, wind farms contribute to an increase in municipal income and induce an inter-territorial balance given that said infrastructures are usually installed in rural areas.

Lastly we must mention the demands and objectives established by the law, both at state and European level. In this manner the Commission of European Communities in their communication “Energy efficiency: reach the objective of 20%”, dated 13/11/2008, define energy saving as the most immediate and profitable manner in which the EU can deal with energy issues that are key to supply sustainability and security, and competitiveness, as established by the strategic objectives of the “energy policy for Europe”. EU officials have stressed the need to increase energy efficiency as part of the “20-20-20” objectives for 2020: reduce primary energy consumption by 20%, a related 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 20% presence of renewable energies for 2020. Both the objectives for greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energies imply an improvement in energy efficiency and conversely, ambitious action in the field of energy efficiency will greatly facilitate the achievement of European objectives on climate, especially in the context of the decision on effort sharing.