International Study of RE-Regions: Region of Navarra, Spain

Keywords: renewable energy region, 100% renewable energy self sufficiency region, Navarra Region, renewable energy in Navarra Region.

Navarra is a region in Northeastern Spain (Figure 1).[1] It is a small region with population of 620,000 in an area the tenth of the state of Pennsylvania.[2] The capital city is Pamplona and the wide of area is about 10,000 km².5) This mountainous region is better known in the U.S for the running of the bulls in Pamplona (Figure 2).[3]

Renewable Energy Development

Navarra region is set to be the first renewable energy self sufficient region in Europe. The US rating agency Standard & Poor (investigation of living standards in Europe), ranked Navarra uppermost among the 17 autonomous regions in Spain. It ranks ahead of UK, Sweden, and France.

The progress of renewable energy development as follows:

  • In the late of 1980s, an era of economic crisis which oil price levied the competitiveness of the industry, the decision to go for renewable energy started.[3]
  • By 2001, After 20 years development, 65% of electrical energy consumed in Navarra comes from renewable energy.[3] This region has already been the second Spanish region in the generation of electricity from the wind.[2] At this period, there are 993 MW of wind energy and almost 100 MW of photovoltaic power has been installed.[3]
  • Currently, approximately 70% of the electricity comes from the wind and sun.[2]
  • In 2010, Navarra plans to reach 100% renewable energy generation.[3]

Wind Energy

This region is Europe’s sixth largest producer of wind power.[4] Wind energy development in Navarra started at the end of 1994.[2] The installations of wind farms (Figure 3) are located in lands from municipality (generally). Now, there are 28 wind farms installed (operating). The first machines had a power 0.5 MW and currently the power has been 2 MW.[5]

Wind Energy as an Industrial and Productive Sector

Wind energy has generated an active industrial and productive sectors in the region. Industrial plans are to produce type of equipment cover turbine assembly, the manufacture of blades, turbines, towers and control equipment, and other wind turbine components. Some important companies in the field of wind energy are:[5]

  • Promoter of wind farms: Corporación Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra (EHN), Eólica Navarra, S.A. y Desarrollo de Energías Renovables de Navarra (DERSA).
  • Production of wind turbine rotor blades: Fiberblade, S.A.
  • Production of electronic materials for wind turbines: Ingeteam, S.A.

Environmental Regulation of Wind Turbines

Caring for the environment has a special attention in the development of wind power in Navarra. Wind farms are subjected to the environmental studies and the government fixes their design by studying before they are authorized. Certain sites have been ruled out as a result of their impact to the environment and the location in projects which have received approval has been modified. Navarre has some advanced legislation about environmental monitoring dealing with wind farms. In their regulation, the minimum distance between turbines in the most recently authorized facilities is 200 meters. This adjustment is meant to ensure that there is space for birds to pass. Each wind farms in Navarre has its own environmental monitoring program to assess the impact of the turbine to the bird life. Some experiments have been carried out when the turbines shutdowns and there are a large number of birds pass the wind farm area, to facilitate birds flight paths. The aim of those experiments is to develop wind turbine with minimum effect to the environment.[5]


Biomass was very important in Navarre to generate heat in houses (fireplaces) and to be used as residue of the wood in the wood industry, up to the implantation of the natural gas in 1989. In 1989, biomass consumption began to be reduced.

[5]Biomass plant

Now, there is an electricity generation plant for the combustion of waste cereal (straw) with the combustion capacity around 160,000 tons/year. This plant is located in Sangüesa (Figure 4). It has an installed capacity 25 MW, produces 200 GWh/year, and represents an investment about 51.9 million euros. It is the biggest plant in South Europe. From 1980s, a paper company has been produced electricity in the plant with the input material of wood residues.

Biodiesel Plant

From 2004, a biodiesel plant manufacture has been operated in Caparroso. The production capacity of this plant is 35,000 tons/year. The investment for this plant itself is around 18.07 million euros. This plant uses oil in the operation 100% comes from vegetables.[5]

Important Company

Important company in the field of biomass in Navarra is Corporación Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra (EHN) y Papelera Navarra, S.A.[5]


In 1990s, two electricity generation plants have been installed. The plant generates electricity with the input gas methane produced in the municipality solid waste dump area and in the waste water treatment plant of the Pamplona City. The current status of these plants up to now has been working. The company managing two biogas plants is Mancomunidad de la Comarca de Pamplona”.[5]

Solar PV

Isolated solar photovoltaic facilities have been realized since 1990s. The government establishes annual grant for this type of facilities in Navarra. In the end of 2001, the largest photovoltaic solar energy plant has been installed. The location of the plant is in Tudela. With the capacity of the plant around 1.2 MW, the investment has been spent around 12 million euros.[5]

Now, beside the largest photovoltaic (PV) plant in Spain, there are also 500 isolated solar facilities (Figure 5) working with total capacity 0.4 MW. The other 1000 facilities which are connected to the net has capacity 7.3 MW. The companies which have significant role in this field are:[5]

  • Owner of the 1.2 MW plant: Corporación Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra (EHN)
  • Installer company: Alternativas Energeticas Solares (AESOL)


Small Hydro

Electric energy has been produced with small hydro power plants (Figure 6) since the end of XIX century. There are some plants of those plants currently which are still working. Now, 107 small hydro power plants are operating with total capacity more than 195 MW. Owners of 50% hydro plants are two private companies. They are Corporación Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra (EHN) with 24 small hydro power plants and Iberdrola (main electric company of distribution in Navarra) with 26 small plants. Owner of the rest power plants, 50%, are distributed in individuals (property of individuals). The potential to build new hydro plants now is limited.[5]