Renewables for cultural recovery in rural communities


From pv magazine Spain

The energy transition is a reality in Spain, where rural areas are at the center of deployment. Given that they contribute part of their resources, there is a debate between public acceptance of renewable projects and the distribution of benefits that must be considered for local communities.

Compensatory measures seek to account for this impact. The most common proposed solutions are drinking fountains, shelters for wildlife, and the reconstruction of sports facilities and daycare centers.

“We believe that compensatory measures can go further,” said Concha Maza, co-founder of Spanish startup On Social 2, told pv magazine. “They can be a driving force for long-term employment and cultural recovery.”

Juliane Meirelle, co-founder of On Social 2, said that local companies and corporations face challenges due to differences in language and context. The distance, both physical and contextual, between these entities often poses a significant obstacle. Typically, companies are situated away from where they execute their projects. Meanwhile, local entities lack the experience and tools to establish synergies and collaborations with these corporations, often focusing on short-term goals. However, Meirelle said she believes that projects can serve as vital tools for long-term social and local reindustrialization.

“We must actively listen to local communities from the beginning of the process, understand the territories, their uniqueness and needs and ensure that the projects have a positive impact on their territory and contribute to creating wealth,” said Maza. “Our response is to bet on the social structures that generate local identity and, at the same time, employment. The energy transition must serve as fertilizer for culture, customs, traditional knowledge and local heritage in the long term.”

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This perspective calls for connecting people and building links between those who provide natural resources, in time and space, and those who provide technology and industrial and sustainable economic development.

The company said that its approach involves personalized fieldwork to introduce entrepreneurship culture to communities, ensuring mutual long-term benefits from the energy transition. It also monitors project implementation for three years to ensure its actual realization.

Maza and Meirelles have experience in these types of project. They have developed programs that promote the traditional use of dry stone construction in the Sierra del Rincón, as well as the production of natural fibers around the esparto ecosystem in Villarejo de Salvanés.

“We seek to promote local employment through local development agencies, traditional knowledge and cultural and natural heritage,” the company said.

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