Introducing Almatret, HYBUILD pilot site

HYBUILD is a group of 21 partners from 9 countries. Every month, a new HYBUILD partner is introduced in our Blog section. This month, we present the Town of Almatret which will host one of the HYBUILD pilots.

Almatret in a nutshell

Almatret is a rural village in Catalonia, Spain, next to the Ebro River, about two hours inland west of Barcelona. It is ringed by agricultural fields of mainly olive and almond trees, as well as protected natural landscapes in the surrounding hills.  Many visitors come to Almatret for trekking, mountain biking and fishing in the river, among other outdoor activities.

The village has a rich history in the production of energy.  In the 19th and 20th centuries, coal mining was the main local employer. In the 1960s, the Ebro River was dammed 6km downstream for the creation of hydroelectricity.  In the 1970s, a nuclear power plant was built 17km from Almatret. Since 2009, the village now has 44 Wind Turbines, with a combined capacity of over 106MW, as well as solar farms and solar panel installations.

Like most rural villages in the Spanish interior, Almatret is suffering from severe depopulation.  From its peak census of 1,520 in 1920, there are now only 204 residents who live year-round.  Over 50% of these residents are over 65 years old.  The local school was finally closed in 2012.

In an effort to combat the effects of depopulation and promote tourism, Almatret created a project in 2016 called ALMIA (“ALMatret + energIA”), in partnership with the GREiA Research Group at the University of Lleida.  The goal is to convert the village into a destination for ecotourism, educational visits and R&D projects.  The closed school building and grounds have been converted into an R&D center, currently for the H2020 Innova and HyBuild projects.  The building is being remodeled to include an educational museum for renewable energies, meeting spaces for tours, labs for research groups, as well as a hostel for visitors who wish to stay overnight.

Almatret’s role in HyBuild

The old school building and grounds will house the Mediterranean installation of the HyBuild project, and will connect to the adjacent “Doctor’s House”, which is the village doctor’s residence. In addition to refurbishing and maintaining the buildings and grounds for the demo, Almatret will assist University of Lleida in any day-to-day needs and facilitate and coordinate all visits to the site by HYBUILD partners.

Follow the HYBUILD Almatret pilot site roll-out on this page.

Get in touch !

Richard Lyon is the European Project Manager for the Municipality of Almatret.  He holds a bachelor´s degree in International Business Administration and Marketing from The University of Oklahoma (USA).  He has worked for over 10 years as an international project manager and business development professional in the software, technology and telecommunications industries. Some of his interests include: ecotourism, rural development and repopulation, sustainable energy and educational programs for renewable energy. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Almatret.