As Pontes-A Coruña, Spain
About the case study
The carbon-intensive region of As Pontes (A Coruña) is located in the northwest of Spain. It has one of the largest coal-fired power plants – La Central de As Pontes – in Spain. This power plant was commissioned in the 1970s to exploit the lignite mines of As Pontes. For the last four decades, the coal mines and the power plant were the main source of income and employment in the region. As a result of Spain’s decarbonisation policies, coal mining in As Pontes stopped in 2007, leaving a large number of miners unemployed. In 2019, Endesa, the owner of the plant, submitted the closure request to the central government, which will further deteriorate the economic strength of the region. Currently, the closure process has been postponed due to rising gas prices and electricity shortages. All these decarbonisation measures have created many uncertainties about the future of the region.
In the As Pontes case study, we focus on the impacts of decarbonisation policies on the relationship between people and territory (de/re-territorialisation process) in the region. We explore the socio-economic, socio-political, socio-cultural, socio-psychological and socio-ecological and technical aspects of the energy transition in the region, as different components of the study. During the first half of the project, we contributed to the development of a multidimensional analytical framework and collected data from different sources, such as socio-economic records, surveys, focus groups, interviews and textual material. In addition, we participated in the two co-creation meetings to discuss different aspects of the energy transition with stakeholders and sister projects. The data collection process has been completed and the case study report, which summarises the first results, is ready and available at the link below.
The initial findings suggest that the ongoing decarbonization process and the closure of the power plant wil:
- Directly affect a large number of workers employed at the power plant, in ancillary businesses and in the transport of coal to the plant. It will create a vacuum in the local economy that will be difficult to fill with the proposed green energy projects, leaving the younger generation with no future prospects except to emigrate from the region. It will lead to depopulation and deterritorialisation.
- Damage the socio-cultural fabric of local society and leave many people with an identity crisis and nostalgia for their mining and industrial past.
- Increase economic hardship, which in turn will increase the level of perceived stress and affect the socio-psychological well-being of the region’s population. It will reduce the level of life satisfaction in the region.
- Affect political power of the region and support the rise of extreme right-wing political parties in Spain.
- Affect the transformative capacity of the region. The people of As Pontes are very reluctant to personal reinvention, which will be the most important challenge for policy makers
The following local organisations have agreed to support the research activities in A Coruna: Association for the Ecological Defense of Galiza (ADEGA), Deputación de A Coruna (Provincial Government of A Coruna), and Union General de Trabajadores (UGT), Endesa Generacion S.A.
Access the full case study here.