Red Eléctrica and the landscape

The Caletillas substation in Tenerife, is an example of the landscape integration of an electricity facility based on a culture of sustainability perspective.

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  • Environment

Environmental Department

Conserving and improving the landscape is an emerging concern, as were other environmental issues such as biodiversity and territorial planning in the last century. Conservation has always been a topic of interest, but it is now in the 21st century when its importance is even more relevant and the landscape has become the object of presentation of argument during the permitting process of new transmission grid facilities.

Due to its complexity, there are hundreds of definitions, based on aesthetics, ecology or its role as a scene of human activity.

The European Landscape Convention is the regulatory framework for its protection. Forged in the mid-90s and developed within the Council of Europe, it was concluded in 2000 in the city of Florence. It establishes that the landscape is any part of the territory, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and / or human factors.

The character of a landscape is what distinguishes it from other landscapes, it is what gives it identity with respect to the neighbouring territory and which provides its identity through the comprehensive reading of the physical and human elements, and makes it different from the surrounding landscapes. The character of the landscape depends not only on its original quality, but on the moment it is evaluated and the sensitivity of potential observers.

From the point of view of the character of the landscape, hiding the facility does not necessarily have to be the preferred strategy. It can cause an unnecessary increase in costs and impacts on the natural and socio-economic environment.

Red Eléctrica, taking the European Landscape Convention as a benchmark, reduces the impact on the landscape through actions known as landscape integration and which are taken into account from the outset of the project. These actions arise from the analysis of geographical, psychological and sociological components to predict the effects that potential changes to the environment may have on the public beyond the strictly local components. Therefore, studies are performed at a regional level.

The Caletillas substation, an example of integration

The substation Caletillas (Tenerife) is an example of the landscape integration of an electricity facility, whose construction was analysed from the perspective of both its visual properties as well as its non-visible sensations -historical-cultural and psychological factors- in order to address the issues of the environment as well as to make the most of the opportunities it offered, taking into account the public perception and providing a pragmatic response.

For its landscape integration, in addition to analysing the location, the following were also taken into account: the local environment, the architecture of the buildings and the colour of the whole scenic area: the blue of the sea and sky, and the colours of the terrain and vegetation.

Having analysed the planning, the construction and economic aspects, the landscape as a scenic unit, the functionality and space, the physical security, the gardening techniques and the incorporation of energy efficiency elements, led to the decision of adopting naturalisation (i.e. boosting the presence of natural elements, soil, vegetation and gardening) and harmonization (also called fusion or contextualization, which integrates the element according to the surrounding environment) as the main landscaping strategies.

Taking into account the resources used, the colour, compatible with existing colours in the surrounding areas, the coarse-grained textures and high internal contrast that dominate the scene, and the planting of palm trees at equal intervals, which makes the substation look smaller, facilitate the adaptation and at the same time express an acknowledgement of and a consistency with the environment.

Red Eléctrica integrates facilities in the environment from a culture of sustainability perspective. The landscape integration carried out in this case reflects the not only the respect for place; but moreover, when a person views the area in which the substation is located, it actually creates a feeling of pleasure and the observer perceives no conflict with the environment.