Julia Pastor | Chairman and Owner with 90% of the capital of the Spanish energy firm Audax Renovables José Elías regrets that the whole industry has made a terrible mistake. “We were able to generate all that photovoltaic energy and we were able to develop an industry around that, but we screwed up, ruining a lot of citizens. We could not have acted worse,” he reckons.
Q: Spain was a leader in renewable energy but it lost that position. How do you explain that a country where there is plenty of sun is not a power and others like Germany are? Spaniards must have been done things very wrongly, don’t you think?
I totally agree. It’s not just that we were able to generate all that photovoltaic energy, it’s that we were able to develop an industry around that, and we loaded it. And we ruined a lot of citizens. We could not do worse. I think it is a cultural issue that we have in Spain. For example, we are struggling to keep unprofitable and highly polluting coal mines open. I understand that it is very hard for the power plant worker to hear this, but maybe you have to teach him how to tighten the screws of a wind turbine and get recycled. I am seeing that in Extremadura there are many people who do maintenance of solar panels, and that is why I believe that there is an important source of stable and quality employment creation, and maintenance of rural areas that must be encouraged. What do we prefer, subsidize the unemployed or create jobs? It seems to me that we are a great power and that with a little common sense this could be ordered. But of course, you have to help a little. In order to launch a photovoltaic power station, I need three years, and this makes no sense.
You have pointed out that for example in Catalonia – Aux Renovables is a Catalan company – legislation was very restrictive. Is there a Spanish region where legislation is more favorable?
The regulation of the energy sector is a competition transferred to the communities, there are faster and slower ones, but in general, the administration lacks means to absorb the entire boom of renewables. Be that as it may, it is a great opportunity for the country, and a great opportunity for the rural environment. Politicians fill their mouths when they talk about empty Spain, but they will have to do more than talk. Training people in these areas, teaching them to maintain a photovoltaic plant … I can think of a thousand things that can be done. Then the issue of financing does not help much, and there are zero tax benefits.