The old Aragonese county of Ribagorza, which straddles the Spanish side of the Pyrenean mountains, has well cared for the abundant rivers that rush over its falls and ridges. These continue to provide the mighty currents so perfect for producing hydroelectricity.
The River Ésera is one of these powerful sources. Back in 1912, the Catalan Gas and Electricity company honed in on the river to supply energy to textile factories on the outskirts of Barcelona and decided to embark on an epic project to build the Seira hydroelectric power station near the village from which it takes its name.
The installation of this plant was a milestone for the area, until then out of the reach of modern transport means. It drew many workers, who were to populate a new industrial colony in the high mountains of the Pyrenees, with their library, church, school, hostels and subsequently all the social and political organisation typical of many a Spanish village. Seira was also a national milestone, since the hydro station represented a civil engineering work without precedent at the time. And it wasn’t without its complications, due to the First World War and orographic and climatological conditions in the area. In 1918, though, the station was finally switched on, producing clean energy from the water it returned intact to a river that continued its journey downstream in search of the protection of the River Ebro.
One hundred years later, this perfectly conserved, and relatively little known, marvel, continues to generate electricity. Operated by ACCIONA since 2009, it does so reliably, efficiently, safely and sustainably, connected to the national electricity grid. The odd outage aside, it has never ceased to serve. Seira was conceived to challenge the passing of time. It is more than a hydro station. It is a legacy.