It is a dream my partner and I hope to make a reality some day, either reforming our current home or building a new, well-insulated, cheap-to-heat eco abode.
It is stopping the traffic and the dog walkers. The winter joggers keep moving, but there is a perceptible easing of the pace. I even saw one running on the spot so as to check what was new, and the next day two patrolling police officers pulled up in their car to survey the rapid progress.
Me too, naturally. I'm quite fixated, if I'm honest, and a little bit green with jealousy. Well, it is not every day that you see an eco-house going up. I wish that it was.
Hurrah for Falset, the Priorat, Catalonia and the family who have decided to think differently, showing the rest of us what is feasible, wise, economical and necessary. Oh, and rather charming, more often than not.
One minute they were finishing the footings, the next the timber frames for the walls and roof rose like at an Amish barn build. Alright, not that fast (and there were no beards, wide-brimmed hats or bonnets), but it was all going up quickly enough to be enthralling. Two months on average, I'm told by the eco-construction company, at a cost of €950 per square metre, once you have plot and permissions, all with sustainable materials. Not surprisingly they are increasingly busy.
It is a dream my partner and I hope to make a reality some day, either reforming our current home or building a new, well-insulated, cheap-to-heat eco abode. And the more I talk to people, or watch them monitoring the evolution of Falset's modest eco dwelling, I appreciate how common that dream is.
I hope Catalonia, the government and the people, will further distance themselves from Madrid policies by showing a fundamental green energy commitment, like that being determinedly pursued in Luis Suarez's backyard in Uruguay, for instance. The small South American nation is now a huge example to the dirty-fuel addicted world, getting 94.5 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources. A hefty investment in wind, biomass and solar in recent years, combined with 20+ years old hydro power, has raised the share of these sources to 55 per cent, compared with 20 per cent in Europe and 12 per cent in the whole world. Hugely significantly too, is there is no nuclear power.
Here in Catalonia, we southerners are pretty green already, whether we asked to be or not. Well, with 79 per cent of Catalonia's wind farms located in Tarragona and Lleida provinces it is a fair claim. But these are very wobbly and depressing times in the renewable power sector across the continent, with subsidies being slashed and efficiencies and economics being scrutinised and questioned. So I ask – why does it add up in Uruguay and not here? This is a core life-on-Earth sustainability issue demanding public and private cooperation, clear planning and a commitment by us all to be far more efficient about power use and, hence, be able to face up to increased cost of clean energy. We need to accelerate clean energy development and investment, doggedly widen our search for solutions and show the world there is a way. The ultimate profit is not coinage but hope.
Which brings me back to the modest eco-house materialising before my eyes and which has started numerous conversations around our dining table - optimistic talk of a happy home, of thriving communities, positives to counter the constant news of a world warped by fanaticisms, greed, cruelty and short-term profiteering.
By facing up to the green energy challenge, insulating our homes or even creating new eco dwellings while pushing for governmental commitment, we can all make a difference. Then power need not cost the Earth.