Coal and thermal power plants have, for four decades, been a hallmark of Andorra, a municipality nestled in the heart of Teruel. A towering tower and half-timbered structure remind us that mining was the existence of this town of 7,000 residents, whose recent existence revolves around this industry. But times change. And in a world that is moving towards an economy and way of life away from fossil and polluting sources, coal has forever handed the baton to clean energy like photovoltaics, wind power or green hydrogen.
Aware of this new reality, Endesa, through its renewables subsidiary Enel Green Power Spain, has launched an ambitious socio-economic plan that seeks to transform the sector and guarantee its future. To do so, it will invest 1,500 million euros that envisages the creation of 500 permanent jobs over five years around 14 hybrid renewable plants, two others for storage with batteries, a green hydrogen project, a synchronous compensator and a Electrolyzer Factory.
This first fair transition competition in Spain is supported by the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenges, and considers not only the development of renewables. An essential aspect is that related to the promotion of projects of social and environmental benefit, which Endesa takes very seriously.
The intention is to make the most of the resources present in the region to generate wealth, employment and provide added value. Through a number of agreements with various institutions and local agents, the company is expected to create another 6,300 jobs. One of these projects, related to the primary sector, goes hand in hand with Apadrina un Olivo, a non-governmental organization that was born in 2014 in Olite, just 23 kilometers from Andorra.
Endesa has created the ‘From the Solar Garden to the Table’ initiative, which seeks to produce and sell oil through the recovery of thousands of abandoned olive groves in mining basins. A tasting shop will be opened, the mill will be expanded and five houses in the area will be air-conditioned to facilitate the settlement of various families
The association recovers the abandoned olive groves of the city, which is badly affected by the population. Through annual contributions from its partners, it has been able to save not only 10,000 trees. The money also helps to generate local employment with families at risk of setting up residents as well as promoting rural tourism – which contributes to the economic advancement of the place – and to restore the flora and fauna. Protects the fauna that depends on olive trees.
Now, thanks to the support they receive from Endesa, the promoters of this initiative, committed to the sustainability of the sector, dream of moving forward. “The goal is to be able to recover 50,000 olive trees in the next few years,” admits José Alfredo Martin, one of the co-founders of Apadrina un olivo. For this Endesa has designed the initiative From Solar Garden to Table, which seeks to produce and sell oil through the recovery of thousands of these abandoned trees in mining valleys. The project includes the expansion of canned vegetables from rehabilitated orchards with oil produced in the traditional style at the mill.
Apadrina un Olivo’s traditional solar farms will be located in the municipalities of Hijar, Calanda, Oliete, Andorra, Alacón and Samper de Calanda. A tasting shop will also be opened, the mill will be expanded and five houses in the area will be air-conditioned to facilitate the settlement of various families.
These actions will create around a hundred jobs with varying degrees of temporary employment, thereby not only creating employment in rural areas, but re-energizing a sector that was in decline. This model is intended to be replicated in Portugal, where Endesa will implement future planning for the area around the Pego thermal power plant.
“If in nine years we have been able to generate all this impact, we dream that with this significant influx of resources we can make an even stronger impression on the region and we aim to set an example of economic dynamism in rural areas. Works as intended,” adds Martin.
support for disabled workers
In addition to recovering these olive trees, Endesa will also protect the 150 olive trees that surround the Andorra plant. To do this, it will collaborate with Atadi, a non-profit organization working with people with disabilities in the province of Teruel.
The Gloria Fuertes School, a reference center in special education at the regional, regional and national level, works closely with Altadi. Many alumni, when they grow up, join the Atadi Special Employment Center to provide various services (cleaning, gardening, etc.) to companies in the area and to the town hall and even the school itself. Both centers have worked on the recycling of screw preparation and work pallets for the Cedis photovoltaic solar plant, and will do so at a future plant planned by Endesa at Mudéjar Junction.
In addition, both the institutes will be direct beneficiaries of the project. Pictopueblo of Andorra, Which will be developed by Endesa in collaboration with Atadi, the school and the City Council of Andorra. The project consists of installing a series of hieroglyphs specifically intended for people with disabilities on buildings, monuments and places of interest in the municipality. The project will facilitate various inclusive activities (gymkhana, treasure hunt, orientation, inclusive tourism…) and coordination with other disability associations in Spain.
He will be in charge of the development of the project. Olive Grove and Inclusive Nursery, Which will be done at the place where the old coal plant was located. With a circular economy approach, the initiative intends to take advantage of the olive trees that already exist on Endesa’s plots to produce the oil, along with the food that is ready to be preserved and processed. The plan includes cultivation of quince trees as well as nursery germination of plants and shrubs that Endesa will place as forest screens at its renewable facilities. It is expected that 25 jobs will be created by 2028, some permanent and others temporary.
It is a challenge, an illusion and an increase in the capabilities of people with disabilities who can contribute greatly, both socially and at work.
Jose Antonio Mora, director of the Atadi union
“It is a challenge, an illusion and an increase in the capabilities of these people, who can contribute a lot, both at the social and work level,” says the manager of Atadi José Antonio Mora. The participants in this project, almost all with intellectual disabilities, will receive prior training in vocational centers in the province of this group. There they will learn to interact with others and take care of their health, access community resources and they will learn basic learning tools (new technology, literacy, memory…).
Training is one of the priorities Endesa has considered in the future plan it has designed for Andorra and its surrounding regions. The company has promoted a program of more than 300,000 hours of classes for more than 5,000 people with a focus on the most vulnerable groups in rural environments (youth, women and the unemployed) – related to the activity generated by its renewable plants.
The training plan is composed of a first block on renewable energy, which will have various courses (solar panel assembler, operation and maintenance of renewable facilities, installation of self-consumption solar, among others). The second block will revolve around training in primary sector activities, and will be carried out in collaboration with leading institutions in the field such as the Association of Families and Women (Afammer) in rural environments. “We are going to teach courses on the transformation of native products, training in aromatic plants, digital skills, organic farming … everything that can be possible to promote job creation in this sector,” explains Carmen Quintanilla, founder of Afamar. Have been.”
The group was born 40 years ago to protect the rights of rural women and give them visibility. “We realized that teaching was necessary in the villages, and we became pioneers in rural tourism, agri-tourism, business creation, specifically this a la carte training…”, recalls Quintanilla. In his opinion, this last step is a fundamental pillar of getting a job, “which is social justice and will give you the freedom to decide about your life and your family.”
The fact that women living in rural areas receive training that opens doors to potential jobs is a factor that helps to settle the population. “If we don’t do that, there will be greater aging and masculinization in those areas,” he says. His wish is clear: that those who live in this area stay in it and not go to the city (forever).
Wake up with analysis of the day by Bernd Gonzalez Harbor