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Windmills everywhere, but Mallorcan renewable energy potential seems untapped

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 April 2011 at 9:03 am

One of the first things that struck me as we arrived in Mallorca was the number of windmills everywhere. Sadly they are mostly derelict, with a few tarted up to promote restaurants or other tourist attractions.

Modern wind turbines, generating electricity, are surprisingly few and far between - we saw about three small ones in 10 days of quite extensive cycling around the island. It's not for lack of wind, as we seemed to be regularly pushing into quite strong headwinds (why does the wind always seem to be against you on a bike?).

Even more surprising, given the wonderful sunshine, and Spain's enthusiasm for renewable energy, was the lack of solar panels on the island. I saw a couple of sets of solar thermal systems - mostly for swimming pools - and hardly any solar PV panels.

Mallorca's windmills (see picture) were originally built to grind corn or draw underground water. They would have had cloth sails, which were later replaced with the wooden slates and metal fans you can see today. They are a great reminder of the potential of wind power, and hopefully there will be more, equally elegant modern ones soon too.

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