European countries, especially Spain are becoming stronger on green projects like renewable energy and recycling. This was the impression I received while on a recent trip to the Spanish coastal city of Barcelona, where recycling efforts and water conservation are widely practiced and solar energy is also gaining in popularity. Spain has been a leader in solar energy projects, and recently Spanish companies have partnered with those in the Middle East, such as the one with Abu Dhabi’s Masdar renewable energy company and Spain’s Torresol Energy using concentrated solar energy plants incorporating concentrated solar power (CSP).
But as a tourist, I was more interested to see what private citizens are doing there to both conserve energy and resources, as well as create energy from renewable sources. These are some examples that the Middle East can pick up on. Come with me on my tour.
Recycle bins like these are everywhere
Despite the fact that it rained off and on during our 4 day trip, the province of Catalonia, like many other areas of Spain, is suffering from severe water shortages, resulting in a public campaign to conserve water.
Even hotel rooms have notices posted in several languages, asking people to conserve water, including when taking a shower, etc. Although large fountains are present in public squares, they only operate during periods when water loss through evaporation is less, like in the evening or at night.
Recycling of numerous materials, including plastic material, glass, paper, and even organic waste is done by placing rows of large recycling bins on sidewalks, with instructions on which bins are to be used for various items. This could compare with efforts now being done in countries like Israel, where local Greenpeace branches have gotten into recycling campaigns.
On the city’s famous La Rambla pedestrian promenade several people were selling art works made from recycled items, including beer and soft drink cans, and even magnetic tape cartridges.
Urban use of solar energy is also becoming popular in Barcelona, with solar thermal collectors for making hot water, and even solar panels for making electricity are now commonplace on rooftops of private homes, as well as apartments and commercial buildings.
Regarding solar energy, the future of widespread use of solar energy seems now to depend on the Spanish government, due to their plan to lessen the amount of feed in tariffs the government is willing to pay for selling solar generated excess electricity back to electric power companies.
There are also some economic issues that could hamper investments in solar energy systems, due to the country’s high unemployment rate, which overall is reaching 22 percent, with up to 45% of young people under age 30 without work.
Despite these issues, it was still comforting to see that Spain in general, and its second largest city, Barcelona, in particular, trying to be more eco-friendly; as well as being involved more in renewable energy projects like solar and wind energy.
Read more on solar energy and recycling in Spain and in the Mid East: