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La Reserva de Biniorella

Camp de Mar, Majorca

Majorca to harness what comes naturally

Posted by Jonathan Broom on May 08, 2018
Majorca to harness what comes naturally

In common with the other Balearic Islands, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, the island of Majorca is blessed with pretty much year-round sunshine. Indeed, that benign climate – hot sun tempered by a cooling breeze – is one of the reasons (along with stunning natural and manmade beauty, and glorious beaches) why people holiday there. And some of course are lucky enough to sojourn at La Reserva de Biniorella!

Odd, then, that the islanders have been so tardy in their efforts to put those abundant natural resources to (even) better use – but the fact is, they haven’t. As it stands, the Balearics generate just 4% of their power from the green, renewable energy that’s not just on their doorstep, but all around them.

But all that is set to change. The Balearic Islands’ local government has just launched a scheme to transform the islands’ energy usage, and intends to switch to 100% renewables by 2050 – an ambitious target compared with others one might mention, but here’s hoping.

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No one wants a power vacuum, so it’s a case of closing ageing fossil fuel-fired plants while concurrently building new solar facilities and reducing non-renewable consumption (though as a temporary measure, older coal-fired power stations will switch to gas to ease the transition). Large new car parks – the islanders are heavy car users – will be ordered to fit solar power. New diesel cars will be banned from 2025. An infrastructure will be built to encourage and facilitate the use of electric vehicles. Street lights will be converted to LEDs.

Resistance – and there is some – comes from the obvious sources, not least those whose jobs depend on fossil fuels. But there is also opposition from residents concerned that large-scale solar farms will prove a blot on the landscape, and also take up valuable agricultural land. Nonetheless the prevailing political and popular will appears to be behind the plan, (a) encouraging the installation of solar panels on rooftops and (b) finding ways to ‘hide’ solar farms in seldom-visited parts of the island, and keeping them small. this!

The new multi-pronged initiative will protect the environment in the islands (and of course further afield) and, in the long term, save money; but it will also boost tourism. In fact, holidaymakers (perhaps without knowing it) are proving to be adept lobbyists in favour of the switch to renewable energy. Surveys attest to the fact that visitors to the islands want to see a significant shift towards renewables; and a recent straw poll by the Guardian newspaper of tourists in Palma, Majorca’s capital city, found that they were shocked and dismayed at how little solar power was being used.

No-one is suggesting that the Balearic Islands’ previous foot-dragging on this issue has discouraged visitors – or that tourists are staying away to prove a point; but if shame is a motivator behind the new scheme, then so be it. To put it another way: if tourist power is a factor in the switch to solar power, then we visitors can give ourselves a pat on the back!

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Jonathan Broom
Author: Jonathan Broom

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