Our second Lighthouse City Bilbao is not only world famous for its Guggenheim Museum but also as being the heart of the Basque Country which has already undergone a tremendous change in terms of economics and cityscape. The City of Bilbao, founded in 1300 and capital of the Bizkaia/Biscay province, is located on the Eastern Atlantic seaboard, in the North of Spain. The ATELIER demo district within Bilbao, Zorrotzaurre, has been a peninsula in the Nervion estuary for many centuries, becoming an island in October 2018. During the 20th century, Zorrotzaurre has been the industrial heart of the old Bilbao city. The heavy industry, mainly around activities linked to Bilbao’s Port and basically around ironworks, has nowadays moved to ‘less expensive’ regional areas.

According to Bilbao’s Strategy for Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development, Zorrotzaurre will become a residential and business district in the future. It will be the framework for deploying and testing new sustainable concepts, principles and solutions that will be used as an example for the whole city. An initial district scale vision has been developed by the city: The island will be accessible by zero-emissions vehicles only and the idea is to implement a zero emission energy supply scheme with 100% electric public transportation. Amongst other implementations, interactive bus shelters will provide information on the energy flows, storage and local renewable generation, a seating area with weather protection, and many other functionalities for citizens.

The aim is to develop 5,500 new homes, 150,000 m2 of office spaces, citizen spaces (154,000 m2) and social and cultural facilities (93,500 m2) on Zorrotzaurre island.

The local PED will be developed in three locations as part of Zorrotzaurre island: North, Centre and South. The three areas are connected via a geo-exchange loop which is a system that will use geothermal and hydrothermal renewable energy to cover the thermal demand of the PED locations and to export the surplus to the rest of the island and, eventually, outside the island.

Picture of Zorrotzaurre (Credits: Ayuntamiento de Bilbao)

The local partners of the Lighthouse City Bilbao are:


Jon Gonzalez

City of Bilbao