Extremadura is an autonomous community of Spain located in the South-West part of the country, and formed by the two largest provinces of Spain: Cáceres and Badajoz. The region has a size of 41,635 km2 (similar to the Netherlands) and has a population of 1.065 million people (in 2019, 16 times less than the Netherlands), which represents a population density of 25.56 inhabitants/km2, making it an eminently rural region, with many population areas scattered throughout the territory.
We are a renewable energy-producing region, mainly through solar photovoltaic, solar thermoelectric and hydraulic; contributing through renewable generation 30% of the total regional generation of electricity. The remaining 70% is provided by a nuclear power plant, which capacity will be gradually replaced by renewable energies by 2030, when it is expected that all electricity production in Extremadura will be 100% renewable. In 2020, renewable energy generation accounted for 121.49% of the regional demand, which places us as a national reference in the transition process towards the goal of climate neutrality, which is hoped to be achieved in 2030, 20 years earlier than expected at European level.
In terms of R&D, our region has the capacity to develop innovative solutions in areas such as: the use of biomass, intelligent systems for energy management, recycling of photovoltaic panels, green hydrogen and energy storage, among others. These capabilities will be enhanced with the construction of the National Energy Storage Research Center (CNIAE), which will be dedicated to the development of new technologies for a better manageability of renewables, and its construction will begin in the short term. Although, as a region we have the necessary energy resources so not to depend on other territories, we still depend on external technology; so the development of certain proprietary solutions would make us more energetically independent and would open great opportunities to improve regional competitiveness.
In environmental matters, we are a community rich in natural resources, with 34% of the territory under some type of environmental protection; with the largest surface area of fresh water in the country; with a large number of hours of sunshine per year (3,106); a great potential for the production of biomass and, through prospecting carried out in recent years, with certain reserves of strategic materials for the energy transition, such as lithium.
Regional energy planning for 2030 will entail a total transformation of our system and unprecedented economic activity will be generated in this field. But this revolution is being accompanied by a series of social movements that are increasingly demanding that the transition should be carried out with both the environment and society in mind.
Role in RIPEET
The RIPEET project, through the implementation of the regional Energy Transition Lab, will gather evidence on what the priorities are as a region, what kind of innovative solutions should be developed to cover those priorities, and what kind of policies should accompany the development of those solutions and their integration into the market, all in line with the main social challenges and concerns, such as:
Energy poverty (12.2% of the population of Extremadura is in this situation);
Variability of energy prices;
Development of professional skills for the new energy future;
Barriers to access to new technologies for the energy transition;
Occupation of agricultural land and destruction of biodiversity.