Friday, March 24

The left before the industry of the 21st century

Llíria, Albuixec, Sagunt, Almussafes. They are names of municipalities located a few tens of kilometers from Valencia, where parts of the future sustainable industry are currently being built. The great transformation underway is not limited to these places, but in them the transition to another form of production in the midst of the fight against climate change is embodied. Also reflected in them is the wager of a policy that understands progress in a very different way than it did in the past.

Power Electronics, a Valencian company founded in the 1980s, has its headquarters in Llíria, in the Camp de Túria region, and is present in fifty countries and is dedicated to energy storage technology, especially linked to solar plants. The company leads a Valencian Battery Alliance in which 23 companies participate. The project, endorsed by the Generalitat Valenciana, has a research aspect and a production aspect and aspires to attract European funds. With a workforce of 2,000 workers in all of its centers, Power Electronics has recently launched an offer of 250 new jobs that it plans to cover this March.

On the other hand, the headquarters of the Swiss multinational Stadler in Spain is in Albuixec, L’Horta Nord region. Dedicated to the manufacture of railway vehicles, it is the latest incarnation of an old great Valencian company that has its roots in the 19th century. Stadler was at first Macosa until it was bought by the French Alstom and later by the German Vossloh, to finally pass into Swiss hands. With the coalition government of the PSOE and United We Can and the Valencian minister José Luis Ábalos at the head of the Transport portfolio, last year he obtained for the first time a contract with Renfe of nearly 1,000 million euros to manufacture large-scale commuter trains. ability. Stadler has around 1,200 workers at the Valencian plant, 400 of them engineers, and among others it promotes projects related to hydrogen applied to railways. In fact, it has a commission from Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana to develop trams powered by hydrogen.

Within the process aimed at decarbonizing the economy, the mass production of batteries for the manufacture of electric cars is one of the fronts that the European Union is promoting. The city of Sagunt, in the Camp de Morvedre region, will be the headquarters of the battery factory that Volkswagen will build with the support of European funds. The choice of the location, in the second phase of Parc Sagunt, which will be officially announced in a few days, has been possible thanks to the fact that the Valencian Government of the Botanical Pact, formed by the PSPV, Compromís and Unides Podem, has done its homework, by facilitating strategically located land next to the Mediterranean Corridor, providing investment and highlighting the availability of qualified labor. It is estimated that, in addition to dozens of companies and thousands of indirect jobs, the factory will directly create some 3,500 jobs.

The choice of Sagunt is strategic for another reason. Volkswagen has an agreement with Ford to facilitate synergies in the supply of batteries, a very strong argument for the continuity of the US multinational factory in Almussafes, a few dozen kilometers to the south, in the Ribera Baixa region, which is immersed in an ipass about its future within the conversion process to the manufacture of electric cars. Ford’s plans in Europe are a cause for concern for the more than 6,000 workers at the plant, for the entire sector of auxiliary companies around it, and for the Valencian economy as a whole. And the possibility that you have battery production so close is good news.

At the time of speculation, corruption and big money, the then Valencian president Francisco Camps proclaimed that the big projects (read Terra Mítica or the ill-fated City of Light) and the big events (let’s say the Formula 1 prize in Valencia, whose pending invoices are still billed) would be “the factories of the 21st century”. That 2007 speech at the Fitur tourism fair summed up like few others the mentality of a right-wing that still today clings to the goodness of any project “at the service of a strategic industry such as tourism”, despite the fact that this policy contributed to the total loss of the Valencian financial system. A right that reiterates the accusations to the left of boycotting collective prosperity when it opposes urban and leisure plans that consume territory and resources or sporting events such as the America’s Cup for sailing, from which the Generalitat Valenciana has just ruled out due to its high cost -about 180 million euros- an eventual new edition in Valencia.

However, as the above examples demonstrate, the coalition government chaired by Ximo Puig, who on the other hand does not shy away from getting involved in events with media impact, such as the recent Benidorm Fest or the Goya Awards gala, tries to maintain (not without internal contradictions, such as the controversial expansion of the port of Valencia) a concept of prosperity far removed from waste and equal to the challenges presented by this century marked by the global fight against climate change. That is why it plays strong, at a key moment, in favor of the factories of a new sustainable economy, whose tractor effect should help a transition that appears especially complex in a country where small and medium-sized companies predominate. It is a challenge and an opportunity at the same time.