The Spanish region of Andalucía is on a mission to insulate thousands of buildings to prevent heat loss and regulate temperatures indoors and it's all thanks to a European initiative.
The autonomous region of Andalucía in southern Spain is leading the charge in energy conservation while creating sustainable construction and transport solutions. Thanks to this European project, which drew its inspiration from the award-winning PICSA programme, and was driven and managed by the Junta de Andalucía through the Andalusian Energy Agency, thousands of buildings have been thermally insulated in record time.
Joaquín Villar Rodríguez the head of the Internationalisation and Prospective Department at the Andalusian Energy Agency told Euronews: "The subsidy rates were high, making it possible to complete more than 36,000 interventions in less than one year, this prevented more than 85,000 tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere and generated €280 million worth of savings for the families who benefited from the programme".
Increasing energy efficiency and reducing heating costs
More than 7,000 vulnerable families have benefited from the PICSA European sustainable construction project in Andalucía. In the La Plata district of Jerez, many of the residents have retired and are looking to make their homes more comfortable in extreme temperatures.
Thanks to PICSA, the subsidies available for insulating walls and roofs have risen to 70% while homeowners are only required to cover 30% of the bill. And even if the work isn't visible to the naked eye, the reduction in heating costs is evident.
Antonio Ramos Fuentes, the president of La Plata Neighbourhood Association said that 60% of energy was saved. "In total, five buildings and nine low-rise houses have been completely refurbished. We notice this and when we talk to people, they tell us that the temperature indoors is totally different thanks to these refurbishments".
The total budget for this project is €242 million, 54.2% of which comes from the EU's Cohesion Policy. A total of 8,300 companies are involved in this initiative, which has created 80,000 jobs.
PICSA serves as the cornerstone for a new sustainable energy development programme in Andalusia called Programa para el Desarrollo Energético Sostenible. It has a budget of over €270 million, 80% of this is funded by the EU and the remaining 20% comes from national regional funds.
In Palma del Río, there are plenty of examples of the town’s commitment to low-carbon emissions. Thanks to double-glazed windows the historic Santa Clara convent has been transformed into a warm and inviting cultural centre and museum.
María Ángeles Zamora Cabrera, the Deputy Mayor and Delegate for Tourism in Palma del Río said: "Energy consumption has been reduced by 50-60%. The fact that there are European programmes helping us to finance it means we can carry out some very ambitious projects, which a municipality of 20,000 inhabitants like Palma del Río couldn't have done by itself".
When it comes to low-carbon transport solutions, the picturesque city of Córdoba has gone the extra mile, boosting a bus fleet that runs on compressed natural gas.
"Gas is effective because it contains fewer polluting particles compared to other fuels. By the end of the year, we will have a total of 121 buses. 55 of these will run on natural gas", said Eugenio Romero Lara, Maintenance and Fleet manager for Aucorsa.