Wednesday, December 2

The irrigators of the Júcar-Vinalopó propose to the Government to incorporate solar energy to lower the operating costs of the transfer

A farmer spraying his plantations in a stock image

A farmer spraying his plantations in a stock image

A report from the Central Board of Users of the Júcar-Vinalopó Transfer Regarding the increase in the costs of the transfer, it warns that the payment of the one hundred million euros that the Ministry for the Ecological Transition demands to reopen the transfer -current approach- would cause a decrease of 14.6% in agricultural production and a 13.4% of employment. The irrigators now propose to the Ministry the incorporation of photovoltaic energy. According to a study by the Polytechnic University of Cartagena, with an investment of 62 million euros in panels to take advantage of the sun’s energy (the return is calculated in 10 years), it would be possible to reduce operating costs by 0.17 euros / m3 , on an annual flow of 35 hm3. The project also includes incorporating the Mutxamel desalination plant, which would also be supplied with solar energy.

The Central Board of Users of Vinalopó, l ‘Alacantí and Consortium of Waters of the Marina Baixa has transferred to the Hydrographic Confederation of Júcar, during the public consultation phase of the provisional Scheme of Important Issues of the future Hydrological Plan of the Júcar hydrographic demarcation, the execution of the integration of photovoltaic solar energy in the Júcar – Vinalopó pipeline.

With more than 500 pages contained in the document presented, although the observations presented are broader, and referring to other aspects of Hydrological Planning, this proposal stands out, as it is decisive, according to irrigators, for the ordinary start-up of a vital infrastructure for the recovery of the Vinalopó – Alacantí aquifers, and the future sustainability of the territory. The main opposition front to the current transfer configuration has always been the high cost of exploitation which, depending on the aquifer, doubles or triples the current cost of extraction, unaffordable for the agriculture in the area.

In the document presented of proposals, observations and suggestions, a preliminary report, prepared by the Polytechnic University of Cartagena, has been incorporated on the socioeconomic repercussions that an increase in the cost of the current resource could entail to that proposed by the Administration for the alternative resources of the Júcar- The study warns that it would cause, that the “expected economic impact for the area (a fall in 14.6% in agricultural production and 13.4% in agricultural employment), nor it would be distributed in a homogeneous way, but it would be especially serious in the groundwater irrigation of Alto Vinalopó and Pinoso and Albatera. To a lesser extent, it would affect the irrigated areas of Alto and Medio Vinalopó, being more reduced in lʻAlacantí and the mixed irrigated areas of Alto Vinalopó “.

The study highlights that with an investment of about 62 million euros and a return on investment in 10 years, it is possible to reduce operating costs by more than 0.17 euros / m3, to reach a transferred volume of about 35 hm3 / year , also avoiding CO2 emissions into the atmosphere of more than 30,600 tons per year. “This reduction in operating costs is decisive for the agreement. The integration of this energy in the Mutxamel desalination plant could be equally advantageous”, underlines the Central Board in a press release.

The irrigators’ proposal shares the strategy of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, the Autonomous Communities and the EU. In the same way, it could be of interest as a project to be considered in the financing options derived from the recent declaration of a climate emergency by the EU and / or the conditions for access to aid promoted by the EU as a result of the covid. “Ultimately, it would turn an infrastructure full of vicissitudes into an example of sustainable hydraulic infrastructure and an example of governance,” says the Central Board.

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