The Henry

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Navarra, Spain: A Case Study in Renewable Energy Technology

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Wind power sources only 1% of worldwide electricity; but for Navarra, a small northeastern Spanish city, wind is not another alternative energy solution— it’s an identity.  In the late 1980s Navarra’s president invested heavily in wind turbine development, wiring the beautiful Spanish city with 900-megawatt interlinking power grids and underground HVDC cables.  What resulted, was a municipality that gathers 70% of its energy from gusts of air.

Last month, I attended a conference at the New York Times Building funded by the Government of Spain and hosted by the Center for Global Affairs at NYU.  President of Navarra Miguel Sanz spoke in Spanish and with pride about renewable energy and Navarra’s success in adapting to its use.  He urged us to examine this politic as a model unto all nations.  In a somewhat self-flattering PR campaign, he articulated his vision of wind energy to be the next Hemingway of Navarra.  Hemingway’s classic novels popularized the city, for which bullfighting was a capstone literary theme.  While this small city might differ slightly from the megatropolis that is America, its implications for developed and emerging BRIC nations echoed loudly within my mind.

Navarra, Spain

Navarra, Spain

I was particularly glad that Fernando Viana, managing partner for Viana & Associates LLC, touched upon oil exploration in Sub Saharan Africa.  As Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil aptly illuminates: 1 in 9 gallons of gasoline comes from the armpit of western Africa.  Mostly OPEC independent, these nations flounder while their leaders buy homes in Malibu and solidify investments from emerging nations like China.  My question to the panel dealt directly in managing the future of energy for these neophyte nations while, rather than after, they develop.  Laying the framework for a future not too dissimilar from that of Navarra.

As for the future of our nation?  In his inaugural address, Obama said it best with: “We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.”  The economic downturn presents new opportunities to innovative resource technology.  Our government is on the cusp of allocating enormous funding for the development and beta stage testing of energy solutions.  I’ve always had a penchant for solar and wind technologies and have been picking my stocks wisely.

If we take the steps necessary to avoid economic, social and environmental disaster today, we can deliver to our children a world that will tick tomorrow.  Whether future generations make the most of such a world, is up to them.  Whether they have the choice is up to us.

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Written by michaelhenryhersh

May 21, 2009 at 1:22 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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