Next year Claudia Scholler will be 65 years old. Then the qualified hotel manager worked for 47 years in gastronomy: on the Baltic Sea, on Ibiza and Mallorca – and since 2001 in Andalusia, near the small town of Lucainena de las Torres in southern Spain. There she has turned a stone ruin into a guest house in a remote valley. It is very quiet and idyllic, at night the stars are as bright as lanterns. An ideal place for seminars, yoga groups or cooking classes. Many visitors come regularly, year after year.
I’ve known Claudia since her time on the Baltic Sea, we’re friends, that makes me self-conscious. Two weeks ago I visited her in her cortijo. She seemed different than usual. Committed, combative, political. The sentence she said most often is: “None of this can be true.”
Claudia takes me on a half-hour drive from Sorbas to Tabernas, two small towns in the north of Almeria. Claudia calls it the “tour of horror”. On the right you can see open spaces where olive tree plantations used to stand, on the left mega solar parks as far as the eye can see. Andalusia is hot, the sun almost always shines. The region plays a central role in the implementation of the “Green Deal”, which aims to make the European Union climate-neutral by 2050.
With all the power and generous EU subsidies, rows and rows of wind and solar parks and huge electricity pylons are being built here. It’s called the “green revolution”. The consequences of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine have increased the pressure to expand renewable energies as quickly as possible.
There is talk of a “boom”. Approval processes are accelerated, affected property owners are expropriated or financially compensated. However, the amounts offered are often far lower than the yield losses caused by ruined agricultural land.
A solar park is also planned in the vicinity of Lucainena, and three high-voltage lines are to run through Claudia’s secluded valley. There is no legally prescribed distance between photovoltaic systems and inhabited houses, she says. The only legal regulation is that power lines and pylons should not fall on a residential building in the event of a natural disaster.
Claudia has been running her house with solar energy for 22 years, it is not connected to the local electricity grid. It has been awarded several times as the “Most Environmentally Friendly Guest House in Spain”.
She is angry, writes to the company responsible for the project. No Answer. She writes to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. No Answer. Finally, Claudia becomes aware of “Aliente” (Alianza Energia y Territorio), an umbrella organization in which around 180 Spanish environmental and social organizations have joined forces.
They call for a moratorium on the construction of further mega-plants. Their motto is: “Renewable energies yes – but not like this”. There are demonstrations and protests. Many fates are reminiscent of the film “Alcarràs” by the Spanish director Carla Simón, for which she was awarded the “Golden Bear” at the Berlin International Film Festival this year.
The concerns of the associations are different. They are concerned with preserving biodiversity, agriculture and tourism. What unites them is a reluctance to see Green Deal gigantism. It is said that the projects must be planned in a locally compatible manner.
Adherence to health-related distances between power poles and urban development is also reminded. Claudia wanted to retire the next year and sell her house. Because of the unclear situation, the buyer has now resigned for the time being.
“None of this can be true,” she says. She increasingly understands her personal destiny as part of a larger development. She is green at heart, she always was. She understands why there must be an energy transition, but “not like this”.
There is already a song and a video showing the landscape around Lucainena. The song is called “Tierra” and is sung by Swiss-born Danit. “SOS” is written in large letters above its beginning.
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