Interview with F. Arechaga (Windar Delegate)


What is the reality about climate change?

There is global concern about climate change and the actions that are being taken. The global temperature has risen by almost one degree since 1880 and the sea level has risen by more than 20 centimetres. There is evidence, such as the fact that 2014 and 2015 were the hottest years, which indicates that something is happening, such as the effect of gases in the atmosphere, which show that the increase in CO2 is already above 400 parts per million, compared to 330 in the pre-industrial era. This is a change that has made world leaders and society very nervous, as seen in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The Paris Summit in 2015 was already signed by 195 countries. These 18 years give an idea of the enormous global awareness.

What is Europe’s role?

Europe is leading the way. In the case of Kyoto, the European Union took it on as its own objective and in 2007 established the objectives of reducing emissions and improving energy efficiency, as well as the participation of renewables in 2020. The objectives are clear because as early as 2014, targets were set for 2030, in which a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 1990 is the objective, and the same percentage refers to energy efficiency and renewables. In the latter year, reductions to the atmosphere would therefore be 40 percent, as well as in total energy consumption, which would rise from 20 to 27 percent.

Offshore wind is therefore set to play a vital role in these changes…

The EU has a very clear roadmap for the improvement of all these energy improvement issues, but it also goes further and is already thinking, although it has not yet been decided, of having a carbon-free economy in 2050, which means that emissions in that year will be between 80 and 95 per cent lower than in 1990. The Paris summit is a much more generic thing, but in Europe as a whole everything is very specific and there are already countries that have said they will give up coal, such as Great Britain, which will do so in 2025, or Germany, which will do so with nuclear power in 2022.

What repercussions do you foresee at the economic level?

The big investment funds are fleeing fossil fuels and moving into renewables. These are clear signs of a major change that is already taking place in Europe and that the rest of the world will be dragged into it. It is a change that also involves transport. In the case of Spain, this activity is responsible for half of CO2 emissions and the solution in this field is the electric vehicle, which has ceased to be a wish and has become a reality, with great performance, in which 100 kilometres can be covered at a cost of less than 3 euros.

What does the future hold?

A very important change is taking place and the main protagonist will be wind energy, because it is the most efficient of the renewable energies and Europe, and specifically offshore wind, has a tremendous future. Right now there are 11,000 MW installed in offshore wind and by 2030 there are expected to be at least 66,000 MW. And that is a conservative scenario, because in a more ambitious one we are talking about 98,000. This implies an annual rate of 4,000 to 8,000 megawatts to be installed. In 2015 alone, 3,000 of the current 11,000 were installed. This is a sector that has a market that is difficult to question. It is a new sector and, moreover, the sea has an advantage, which is the limits of the equipment. On land, it is very difficult to talk about little more than 3 MW, because the equipment takes up a volume that is impossible to transport by road, and this does not exist at sea. That is why these contracts that we are doing in a joint venture with Navantia, the Wikinger and the Hywind, are for 5 MW machines, which are impossible on land.

But there are other projects…

The next contracts we are waiting for, which I hope will be confirmed in a few weeks, are for 7 MW machines. The EU has already said that the 20 MW machine, in which only the diameter of the blades is 240 metres, is possible. The shipyards are going to have an opportunity for an absolutely primordial activity and business.

What role does Spain play?

In Spain there has been a very large development of onshore wind power and there are around 25,000 MW installed, which represents almost 24 percent of the installed electrical power in the country. Now it is in a process of adjustment, as it was one of the first countries to launch wind power generation. Windar has in fact a 37 percent share in this sector and I believe that offshore wind will undoubtedly come to Spain, although we are not the first, but this is not always an advantage. The fact that we are working for other countries puts our industries in a privileged position.

The agreement with Navantia seems to go much further…

Windar is a world leader in the manufacture of wind towers, with plants in Spain, Mexico and India. We got into offshore four years ago and that experience is what we took advantage of to set up the joint venture with Navantia because the former Astano is a privileged facility for this activity.

The commitment is therefore firm.

Windar is willing to make this commitment to Navantia a spearhead, although I can only speak for Windar. The offshore wind industry is not only about jackets, but there are more similar productions in the pipeline. Regarding the bids that are underway, the outcome will soon be known and they will also have an impact on Ferrol. Our activity is already having repercussions in the area, as for example with the painting, which is done here, and with the auxiliary industries. We are talking about 800 jobs. We can always diversify and do more things, but I think we can already see a recovery in the street.

It is very important to be there from the beginning.