Art as a protector of biodiversity

This pilot project in Aragon, Spain, aims to show that renewable energy parks can help in the conservation of nature while serving as open-air art galleries

In Samper de Calanda, a small rural town in the province of Aragon, Spain, a vulnerable species is facing serious conservation challenges. We’re talking about kestrels, small falcons resident in the Iberian Peninsula whose natural habitat has been significantly reduced in recent years. This is how ‘PrimillArt’ arose, a pilot project that combines renewable energy with the protection of biodiversity and art.

In partnership with the University of Zaragoza (UNIZAR) and the Aragon Agro-Food Research and Technology Centre (CITA), Galp is developing a Renaturalisation Plan for solar energy parks in the Aragon region. This plan aims to protect and boost local biodiversity, promote the renaturalisation of the ecosystem, and regenerate the soil, among other benefits. So far, several birdlife monitoring actions have been carried out and some of the initiatives have been implemented, including the planting of aromatic and medicinal species (artemisia, thyme and santolina) between the photovoltaic panels and, on part of the land, the installation of hotels for pollinating insects and shelter boxes for birds and bats. “We did so by building small shelters for these birds, thereby providing direct assistance in the conservation of the species”, Carlos Relancio, director of Renewables at Galp, tells Energiser.

One of these shelters lies close to the Talento photovoltaic power plant and is now an outdoor artistic exhibition, which has completely transformed a cement structure into a work of art, perfectly integrated into the landscape. “We added a cultural dimension to the protection of biodiversity and renewable energy in the ‘PrimillArt’ project”, explains the director of Renewables. A movement that provides guest street artists with the chance to paint the shelters with well-known features of local culture and values, thereby ensuring the structure blends smoothly into the landscape. “In addition to producing clean energy, our renewable solar energy parks help in the conservation of species and serve as open-air art galleries”, he reinforces.

“We are promoting the combination of clean energy and art, science and creativity and, while building this bridge between typically back-to-back domains, we are working on the involvement and awareness of citizens with respect to biodiversity and energy transition”, adds Tiago Villas-Boas. The financial director of Renewables and New Business at Galp explains that the energy company “is engaged in the communities not just as a company, but as a partner and a neighbour”. The mission, he emphasises, is to extend this philosophy to projects, which need to reflect people's real challenges and collective ambitions. “When this occurs, they cease to be Galp projects and turn into community projects”.

A challenge for artists

Creating projects consisting of a combination of topics such as the environment and biodiversity is, as far as Cláudia Montenegro is concerned, both a challenge and a pleasure. Passionate about these topics, Cláudia, in charge of sustainability at the Galp Renewables Department, strives to identify the most vulnerable species in each project and to understand how energy can play a role through specific measures with a real impact.

Cláudia Montenegro highlights Galp’s involvement in the protection of biodiversity

The inclusion of art as the third cornerstone of this strategy at Talento has made the programme even more challenging and interesting.

“The goal was to help this building blend into the landscape through art, with the assistance of a local artist”, she explains. Guillermo Paz, a street artist, responded to the invitation immediately, contributing with a piece of work that, in his own words, “mirrors the region's landscape and sustainability”.

Andalusian street artist Guillermo Paz travelled to Aragon to leave his signature on a conservation project

Protecting biodiversity and creating a positive impact on new projects wherever the company is active is one of Galp’s concerns and goals. While ensuring the conservation of natural areas and species throughout the life cycle of its projects, the energy company actively contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by creating renewable energy plants fully integrated into the ecosystem in photovoltaic energy parks.

The 'PrimillArt' programme will now be replicated at other Galp photovoltaic energy parks in Spain, in line with the ongoing mission of protecting biodiversity, promoting local artists and involving communities.