GNF - 4th Project Meeting get grEEN in Spain

Environmental Education on Energy




Topic of the meeting:

Villacañas (Spain)

18 - 22 September 2011

Environmental Education on Energy.


Project implementation


Energy is a hot environmental issue globally. The impact of energy production and consumption is no longer local. Earlier debates on energy focused on low emissions producing dust and poison, noise, smell etc. High chimney and concentrated power generation were often considered environmentally friendly. But the smart slogan: “solution to pollution is dissolution” is no longer valid. There is not enough air in which to dissolve the growing number of pollutants. Moreover it is not only the pollutants but also seemingly harmless substances like CO2 or H2O exceed the combined neutralization capacity of our atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere. Latest research of huge American project intended to disprove the human impact on global warming failed, and moreover – previous skeptics had to admit that not only the global warming is caused by ourselves, but suggested that the impact is much stronger than claimed by their hitherto opponents.


The situation in the three countries differs. Climatic conditions, human population densities, available resources and energy patterns are not comparable. Spain has no own fossil resources. However it has wind and most importantly sun. Germany and Poland have very similar climatic conditions, and both countries use much of their own coal and lignite. Population densities are highest in Germany, than in Poland and Spain. In Poland there is ongoing debate on nuclear power. In fact the government forced their decision to invest in this sector without asking people’s opinion. And invests public money into promotional campaign using mobile centre of pro-atomic propaganda. In the same time Germany started a long-term plan to get rid of the nuclear power. Spain has 8 plants, all of them reaching the permit threshold of 40 years. The moratorium on nuclear energy in Spain dates back to 1983.


During the meeting in Villacañas project partners concentrated on the learning of modern practices for environmental education on energy issues. The section “Problem” was presented as an introduction to more specific discussions by the Polish team.

Field Visits 


Iberdrola Energy Centre

Energy Centre in Villacañas was visited during mobilities in April and September 2011.


Two visits to the centre acquainted get grEEN participants with the centre’s programmes, methods of work and equipment. April visit was used to show the centre’s approach with creative models illustrating different aspects of energy generation. Participants could try their powers on an energy generating bicycle. The models of solar power station, wind and hydrogenation show not only general rules but also allow measurements and calculations for more advanced and inquisitive visitors.


The 2 person staff of the centre is paid by Iberdrola, company owning wind farms around Villacañas. It is a sort of compensation programme, a return of the company to local community.


Basic methodologies provided by the centre were:

  • movie presentation as introduction to the problems and solutions concerning the effect of different energy sources on environment,
  • playing with models of different energy sources,
  • visit to a wind farm,
  • exercises in production of gadgets such as solar charger.

The centre Staff was well trained to answer questions of the visitors.


The models were all working and often involved interaction with the visitors. Their design allows simple explanation as well as understanding of more complicated issues, including calculations and detailed schemes.

Conclusions, recommendations, remarks

Educational centre in Villacañas is financed by business sector.

It offers interesting methodology, especially models.

Transferrable, but implementation of concrete solutions depend on local situation (NO! for wind energy in Barycz Valley, because of birds and water energy not recommended except maybe small scale turbines on existing water mills).

Use of models has a potential for other topics, like functioning of an ecosystem or fisheries open air museum.

Renewable Energy Producers


First of the educational techniques was guided tours in the factories. These are only possible on request and the companies do not allow these visits on a daily basis among others for safety reasons. Still, they were well prepared to explain different aspects of their operation, including environmental context.

The get grEEN group visited renewable energy producers, starting with the combined natural gas, biogas and biomass plant Factor Verde (Green Factor). The plant treats the manure from neighbour large pig farms. These piggeries produce manure exceeding demand of the surrounding farms and transportation of manure to remoter areas is not viable. Factor Verde deals with the smelling problem by turning biogas from the manure fermentation into energy. There were, however some challenges. First of all people did not agree for the plant location anywhere nearby the town. Therefore it became impossible to use the by-product heat for any municipal purpose (transport of the heat was too costly and inefficient at the distance). Second challenge was the sludge remaining from the manure treatment. The plant uses the heat for drying remaining sludge and other biomass bought from farmers.

The scale of the plant using the biogas only would not be economically viable, especially when located away from the human settlements. Also, it would not meet energy demand of the town and would not suffice for the quick-flow drying of the sludge. Therefore the biogas accounts for 5 % of the energy, other biomass is a subject of seasonal availability, and the main fuel for the plant is the natural gas. 

The company received support for the construction of the plant because it deals with environmental problems. Necessary prerequisite was that it uses the heat generated as by-product. The running costs are covered by selling the electricity, payments for manure treatment (understood as environmental service to the pig producers) and selling of the dried and compacted manure sludge as fertiliser. The dehydrated substance may be easily packed and transported for longer distances. Wood biomass – mainly vine twigs is purchased from the farmers, dried on the site, chipped and instantly used as a fuel. Price depends on humidity.


Providers of the solar energy started with the presentation on the general situation in energy sector in Spain, solar technologies and local situation in Villacañas. Sun is very important for Spain, lacking fossil fuels and importing all Uranium for its 8 nuclear plants. The solar technologies include (usually individual) heating systems for warm water and heating of the households, thermo-solar generators and photovoltaic panels. It is worth to know that the peak energy demand not any longer is in Winter time. Air conditioning needs more energy than heating and not only in Spain but also in zones with milder Summer.

Then the group visited modern control room of the plant and solar farm. Another photovoltaic project was a solar roof that covered a large industrial /storage hall approx. 30 x 40 m with some 200 - 300 kW in installed solar panels.

Photovoltaic panels are more expensive and less productive than thermo-solar generators, at least over certain size. The price for 1W of a quality photovoltaic panel is 1 €, but together with other costs of installation, 1 W reaches about 4 €, according to the company representative.

Research shows that there is a theoretical limit on photovoltaic efficiency at 29 % of the solar power reaching the cells, with the world record achieved at 25 %. Typical panel of 1,5 sq m may generate 300 W (peak) and 100 W at unfavourable conditions.

Conclusions, recommendations, remarks

The renewable energies have their environmental benefits and drawbacks. Educators should be well informed and update their information, with the fast development of the branch.

None of the energy sources has a null impact on environment - the old environmental rule of the 3R calls for saving first.

Final conclusions


Energy is a hot topic for environmental education for citizens.

Poland has some, but so far least among the three countries, experience in the use of and education on renewable energy sources and on energy issues. That’s why Poland was so much interested in transfer of the other countries’ experience. Still Poland has something to offer – the projects combining use of local energy with nature conservation – based on the habitat management.

Patterns of education on energy differ. The business companies may have some bias resulted from their interest, environmentalists must take into account the social and economic aspects.

When promoting and implementing local solutions, education for the local citizens is very important. In forestless La Mancha plateau in Spain, collecting the wood from the vine twigs relies on the individual farmers. An NGO and the town mobilize the farmers to participate.

There is a big potential of mutual learning as the countries have some individual, positive, and transferrable approaches.



Ayuntamiento de Villacañas, Spain: Angeles Pontes, Julio Raboso, Blanca Hurtado


ETNA, Poland: Roman Guziak, Ewa Zuber, Jerzy Zuber, Beata Komsta


Fundación Global Nature, Spain: Antonio Guillem, Jordi Domingo


Global Nature Fund, Germany: Katja Weickmann, Volker Kromrey

 Excursion in a vineyard
 Setting own solar charger
 Simple model of a solar changer
 Excursion to the power plant with wood dryer
 Solar farm
 Excursion to a solar farm
 Besides the solar panels, grid connecting equipment is needed.
 Solar panels
 Traditional wind power plants
 Landscape in Spain