• Aragon can offer great continuity in the supply of renewable energies, which makes it an excellent location for emerging energy-intensive companies such as datacenters (Mike Berners-Lee)
  • In the new energy distribution model “not all territories are going to be equal. There will be a tendency to seek balance, but the industry will move towards generators for efficiency” (Julio Tejedor)

“Aragon is a key region for the energy transition, because it has a lot of sun and wind. Thanks to these two sources, it can offer a great continuity in the supply of renewable energies, which makes it an excellent location for emerging energy-intensive companies such as data centers. So said Mike Berners-Lee, professor at Lancaster University, specialist in carbon footprint and environmental impact of ICT and keynote speaker at the 1st International COnference Foro Sella on energy management in industry, which was held on November 24 in Villanueva de Gállego (Zaragoza, Spain).

This strength of Aragon as a power in renewable energies is a pole of attraction for the industrial fabric, with examples such as Amazon Web Services, Stellantis, Saica or BSH, which shared their good practices during the conference, where challenges involved in this new energy model from the point of view of management were also adressed.

Julio Tejedor, representative of the Aragon Energy Cluster, highlighted the challenge of moving from a centralized model to a decentralized one and from there to a distributed one, and stressed that in the new distributed energy model “not all territories will be equal. There will be a tendency to seek balance, but industry will move towards the generating regions due to efficiency”. In this new model, autonomous communities “such as Aragón, will have a greater margin, moving towards self-consumption,” he asserted.

“It’s no use injecting a lot of renewable energy into the system if when a decarbonized company can’t access it because the distribution grid doesn’t have enough power,” he added. “We require more renewable energy, but also better grids.” This change should also involve, in his opinion, forming a meshed network starting from the current radial network.

Along the same lines, Forestalia’s Director of Wind and Solar Development, Fernando Samper García, endorsed the idea of “a comprehensive green energy model that is competitive across all sectors, including industry, which has closely witnessed the transition from outdated fossil fuel consumption”. Samper García also emphasized that “by envisioning ambitious projects, significant goals can be achieved, such as aiding the green electrification of the industry. This can be achieved through tailored solutions that directly link supply and demand, particularly in rural areas where ensuring electricity availability can be more intricate,” he explained.

For the Forestalia representative, it’s not possible to establish a renewable park in every location as “not everywhere has sun and wind.” In his view, Aragon holds a “strategic position for structuring and networking,” contributing, as evidenced by “the 8 gigawatts processed by Forestalia,” to highly industrialized communities such as Catalonia or the Basque Country in achieving their own goals for green energy production and consumption.

Sustainable data centers, ICT and industry

Manuel Giménez, executive director of SpainDC, the Spanish datacenter employers’ association, advocated for the sustainability of data centers in our country, pointing out that they are already more efficient than what the European Union is asking for.

“Everything we do – entertainment, communications, etc. – goes through a data center. So, all economic and ecological transformation goes through them. How much energy consumption savings would it represent not to have data centers? It’s not possible in the world we live in,” he reflected. In this regard, Giménez emphasized the importance of having these facilities in the EU and in Spain, “where they are needed.”

Mercedes Royo, President of the Business Parks Federation of Aragon (FEPEA) and member of CEDAES (Spanish Confederation of Business Areas), highlighted the evolution of industrial parks “from being deserted and abandoned areas by the administration until recently”. However, in recent years, “they are being taken very seriously. If we manage to make them clean and decarbonized, we will have the perfect combination,” she added.

Agustín Lalaguna, Vice President of CEOE Aragon, also emphasized the differential value of Aragon as a power generator. This has led “companies like Amazon or Microsoft to come to Aragon, and local companies, for example, Balay, can benefit from this capacity,” he stressed.

David Blázquez, responsible for Institutional Relations for Aragon at AWS Iberia, reminded that this company is the “largest purchaser of renewable energy in Spain.” “We are undertaking significant projects in Aragon,” he added.

“If the current focus is on prioritizing sustainability when evaluating a company’s cloud strategy, it is essential to focus investment on new technologies and innovative resources, such as high-performance cooling systems, real-time climate sensors, and efficient hardware customization. These measures help reduce energy consumption and improve environmental impact,” he concluded.

Nicolás Ramón García, responsible for Indirect Material Purchases at BSH Spain, explained how the company aims to reach an average of 15% self-consumption, and during certain hours, they only consume 50%. “Storage is another avenue to explore in the future,” he asserted.

Ignacio Cortés, responsible for Renewable Electricity at Stellantis, highlighted that the company’s most ambitious plan is “to sell 100% electric vehicles in Europe by 2030” and to reduce electrical consumption by 50% in its production processes by 2025.

Finally, Luis Miguel Gil Baliano, responsible for Energy Services and IDi Natur and New Activities at Saica, noted that his company has intensive activity in both electricity and thermal energy. “In the European environment where we operate, we have set decarbonization as a challenge and, obviously, as an obligation. We and the entire paper industry are exploring options in a very volatile environment.”

The 1st International Conference on Innovation in Energy Management in the Industry was jointly organized by Foro Sella and the Industry and Foro Industria y Energía, with the collaboration of CEOE Aragon, the Energy Cluster of Aragon, and the University of Zaragoza.