Esparity Solar ‘s new project under development in the autonomous community of Valencia, namely the province of Alicante, has just been awarded the certificate of excellence in sustainability: the project is called “Safarich” (50MWP).
High standards of social and environmental integration criteria
The certificate, awarded by the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF), gives acclaim to solar plant projects which comply with high standards of social and environmental integration criteria. It is divided into two phases: (1) evaluation and inspection, and (2) when the plant is operational.
Supporting the Bonelli's eagle habitat
The “Safarich” project will be in the Alicante municipality of Biar, with a peak power of 50 MWP. This project combines the implementation of apiculture and environmental measures. These measures include rabbit breeding areas that support the development of the Bonelli’s eagle habitat and natural spaces that mitigate the vacuum effect. In addition, it provides game fencing that allows the natural passage of animals and insects.
Moreover, the perimeter of the plant will have a vegetation barrier that favours landscape integration. Its location is considered optimal given that it is a highly anthropized area. It borders a highway, traversed by several overhead power lines and very close to the future ST Castalla 220kV electrical substation, where it has access permits and connection to the power grid.
Undoubtedly the most noteworthy aspect of the project is that it only has 140 meters of aerial evacuation line, due to the rest of the cabling being underground. This substantially reduces its environmental and landscape impact. Means of public access is also established, so there is no need for expropriation. The project is, in parallel with the public exhibition, setting up a public participation plan for the correct implementation of the landscape integration project, based on the LOTUP, the Spanish Law of Land Management, Urban Planning and Landscape.
Social and Economic Benefits
The establishment of the Safarich solar photovoltaic plant will have several social and economic benefits for the project’s surroundings, since it is considered that it will supply enough solar energy for 20,000 homes, reduce more than 60,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year and create more than 200 jobs during its construction phase. These estimations are based on contrasted ratios by REE (Spanish Electrical Grid) and tools such as PVSyst based on parameters defined by the IEA (International Energy Agency).
As is characteristic of Esparity’s projects and as indicated in the Spanish regulations (Decree-Law 14/2020, of August 7, of the Counsel), Esparity undertakes to dismantle the plant at the end of its useful life cycle, returning the land to its original state prior to the construction of the plant. Therefore, the temporary occupation of the land by the plant will be 100% reversible.
The commitment acquired goes further and is based on responsibility to the local community and the biodiversity’s preservation. In so doing it adds value to the ecosystem services, beyond the strictly technical or corporate and, in line with compliance with the energy transition objectives outlined in the framework of the UN’s 2030 agenda and SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).
More demand for renewable energy now than ever
There is currently an alarming increase in the cost of electricity bills, which is leading to historic surges in the price of electricity. The Government’s policy, and the entire European Union’s, is focused on increasing renewable energy, as they are aware that it is a real commitment to take care of the planet and to reduce the cost of the electricity bill. In Spain it is necessary to boost the development of these technologies, especially solar energy, to stop the dependence on other more polluting and volatile energies, such as coal, oil and gas.
Criteria required for obtaining the certificate
The process of obtaining the Certificate of Excellence in Sustainability is divided into two phases: in the development phase, a Preliminary Certificate is issued based on the analysis of all project documentation. In the second phase, after the building of the plant, the Definitive Certificate will be issued. This is once the plant’s on-site evaluation has been carried out and it is verified by the certifying entity that the project has been developed based on the documentation previously provided and the commitments adopted.
The criteria for certification include socio-economic requirements, which consider the positive impact on local employment, the effect on the economy and the dialogue with main stakeholders. In terms of biodiversity, solar photovoltaic plants become an opportunity. Therefore, the criteria in this matter focus on the location of the installation, the assessment of its environmental impact, the design of the plant and its connecting electricity lines. Waste management within the framework of the national circular economy strategy will also be considered. Certificates are given by independent certifying companies (in this case, by CERE).