Hunger strike in defence of Spanish renewables

After the Spanish government ditched its support for renewables at the beginning of the year and introduced a moratorium on the feed-in tariffs for clean energy, the sector has grown increasingly weak. Just like Ángel Vadillo, the mayor from a town in southern Spain who has been on hunger strike for 87 days in protest against the measures.
Hunger strike in defence of Spanish renewables

Deeply entrenched in a recession that does not look like it is going to lift in the near future, Spain is in desperate need of boost. As a long-standing leader in solar power, the Spanish solar thermal electric industry is the largest in the world at present alongside that in the US. With Spanish companies leading in R&D and plant engineering, construction and operation around the world, one would be forgiven for thinking that growing this sector could be one way the Spanish government could help increase revenues and create jobs.

With this in mind, it is unclear then why this year the Spanish government has implemented a number of measures to bring the renewables sector including the solar thermal electric sector to its knees. One mayor in the town of Alburquerque had the same doubts back in the Spring, and took it upon himself to walk all the way from his home province of Badajoz to Madrid to ask the Ministry of Industry why it had taken these steps.

Ángel Vadillo set off on the 650 kilometre march on 20 March and reached Madrid 23 days later, where he even slept on a bench outside the Ministry awaiting the chance to speak to the Industry Minister about the plight of the sector. Vadillo had been prompted to take such action after Royal Decree 1/2012 was enacted in January leading to the cancellation of the construction of five solar thermal electric plants on land in Alburquerque, where the unemployment rate stands at 40%. The projects in question would have created numerous jobs, and brought in revenues for the town to pay for public services such as an elderly care home, nursery and centre for the disabled.

Vadillo travelled to Madrid to personally request that the Industry Minister sit down with members of the renewable energy sector to debate the future of the industry and the employment such projects create. While he was granted a brief meeting with Industry Minister, José Manuel Soria, he came away empty-handed after the Spanish member of parliament refused to instigate such a debate.

87 days without food

In desperation, Ángel Vadillo began a hunger strike, which today reached its 87th day. Our sister publication in Spain, Energías Renovables, has been following this story closely, and only yesterday reported that Vadillo’s health had taken a turn for the worse and he had been admitted to hospital for tests. The decision to admit him to the Hospital de la Princesa in Madrid was taken after medics from Samur detected that the mayor had an irregular heartbeat due to the prolonged hunger strike in defence of the renewables industry.

We have no further news on Ángel Vadillo’s condition today, but will keep you posted on this story which highlights the desperation felt by Spain’s renewables sector in light of the current government’s stance against it.

For additional information:

Article (in Spanish) in Energías Renovables

Pablo Ruiz
Why don't people take the streets to protest? Because we're afraid of the risk premium,social services cuts, salary reductions, and so on. But we've got an energy scam and an energy mafia.
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