The Basque country's only industry to be entirely dependent on wind and solar power was put to the test last month when the municipality of Urduliz in Bilbao province suffered a major power cut. Owner Koldo Zuazo proudly states that his rabbit farm was "the only place with electricity in the area." Zuazo's renewable electricity supply comes from a combination of a 3 kW wind turbine from Alicante based manufacturer Bornay and eight solar panels, each of 165 W, backed up by battery storage. The system cost ESP 5 million (EUR 30,051), 40% of which was met by the regional government's Ente Vasco de la Energ’a (ENE) program. The cost of connecting the remote hillside rabbit farm to the grid would have been prohibitively higher. In 1999, EVE allocated ESP 60 million in subsidies to such small-scale self-sufficiency energy projects. Wind turbines must not exceed 3 kW. Currently 271 commercial and domestic premises combine isolated renewable sources with grid supplied in the region, with another 71 undergoing installation. Zuazo says that as long as the prevailing easterly winds from the sea are blowing, his turbine produces more power than he and his rabbits need. However, the transitional southern winds of early winter, combined with the turbulence caused by a nearby crop of rock, have buffeted the 2 m blades against the tower and they have had to be changed three times. Zuazo says that if local regulations had allowed the tower to exceed the 8 m limit then this problem would have been avoided and he would not have had to resort to the standby generator.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol