The Government presents Catalonia’s energy transition roadmap: “We are here to transform the country; we must act now”

President Aragonès and Minister Jordà announce the creation of a public energy utility, the introduction of an energy transition bill and a territorial plan for renewables in Catalonia

The President of Catalonia’s Generalitat government Pere Aragonès, and his Minister for Climate Action, Food and the Rural Agenda Teresa Jordà have presented the government’s plan for the energy transition in Catalonia. With the goal of reaching 50% in renewables by 2030 and total carbon emissions neutrality by 2050, the Catalan executive’s roadmap features stellar measures such as the creation of a public energy utility company, the introduction of an Energy Transition Bill, and a territorial plan for renewables in Catalonia, all of which emphasizes the consensus and cooperation throughout the territory.

72% of Catalonia’s greenhouse gases emanate from the transformation and use of energy. Energy transformation is thus the only option if we really want to care for the country and the planet,” said the president. “By 2050 we must be a completely decarbonized, clean, energetically democratic and inclusive country with distributed, consumer-focused generation,” he said. A very different horizon from the current model, “capitalized by the fossil fuel sector, subordinated to the industry’s energy prices, and which accelerates climate change.”

The government stakes on an energy model that is:

  • Distributed and decentralized: “It is not possible continue with a model based on mega-stations generating energy to be transported via high voltage lines, because this model ends up encouraging depopulation of the territory and transfer of the centres of economic activity to the big cities,” Mr Aragonès pointed out.
  • Territorially cohesive: progress towards a sustainable energy model must be made “with the agreement and cooperation of the territory.” It is also “necessary to integrate energy and climate policies with those of rural development,” he said.
  • Democratic and participatory: with a “strong component of social empowerment,” which puts local energy communities with citizen participation “at the centre of electricity generation,” the president added.

And to progress towards this model and the 2030 and 2050 goals, concrete measures are needed. That is why the executive has designed and presented a policy roadmap with five courses of action:

  1. Creation of a public energy utility: this will allow the administration to influence the energy industry. The government wants this utility to produce energy especially in local areas which major energy utilities are not interested in developing: public buildings and infrastructure, roads, reservoirs and canals, for example. It also wants the new utility to participate in the ownership of new renewable generation plants and in the development of citizens’ renewable energy communities; and to enter into the public management of hydroelectric power plants when their concessions expire.
  2. The Energy Transition Bill: the Government plans to introduce this in Parliament in the first half of 2022 and make it consistent with the “Catalan, sovereign, democratized, sustainable, 100% renewable and local” energy model it advocates. This bill will establish a minimum target for the deployment of distributed generation and will promote self-sufficiency and the plants in which citizens, local businesses and administrations and social entities are to participate.
  3. Approval of the Territorial Sector Plan for Renewable Energies in Catalonia: a document that will allow for planning of the energy infrastructures that the country needs. This will have to be approved by the Government in the second half of 2023. In this way, there will be a comprehensive map of the renewable energy infrastructures in Catalonia, detailing which areas in each region can accommodate facilities, for which a favourable resolution of the region itself will always be required. It will be the first plan that will spring from the municipal debate, with the presence of all the regional players in energy, the environment, government and residents’ associations.
  4. Creation of the Network of County Offices for Energy Transition: a network of technical experts that the Government will engage in each county to support municipalities in renewables projects. This deployment is expected to be completed within the next six months.
  5. Promotion of the Bioenergy Strategy for Catalonia at an interdepartmental level: following in the footsteps of the recently approved Bioeconomy Strategy, the Government means to promote the use of biomass and biogas, energy sources that meet the objective of taking local root in the territory and production associated with rural environments, which should lead to an energy, social and economic good. The executive also means to take advantage of the industrial infrastructures present in Catalonia for other energy sources, such as green hydrogen.

It is all a question of beginning to project the “green transformation” to which both Esquerra Republicana and the Government are committed. That is in fact what President Aragonès laid out in his inauguration speech and is now contemplated in the government’s plan. “In the coming months, we will accelerate the process of energy transition because the danger that we face if we do not make this transition will come from other areas of power following the extractive and oligopolistic model that has prevailed so far. And we cannot allow that. We are here to transform the country, and we will also do so in the field of energy,” the president concluded.