Mutriku in the Basque Country owes its spirit to the sea. The inhabitants of the picturesque seaside village of Mutriku have long benefited from the ocean’s treasures. They are currently making use of its amazing capabilities.

The shoreline here is a geological wonder, formed by strong storms and unrelenting waves that left behind flowing, jagged flysch layers of thin shale that extend into the ocean like pages of an old book. More than 800 years after it began as a small fishing community, Mutriku developed with Basque trade during the Middle Ages to become a prosperous port that was home to generations of fishermen, traders, shipbuilders, and whalers. “It is a history of fishermen, navigators, and sailors—men and women whose lives unfolded in this environment,” said Violeta Bandrés, a guide at the Mutriku Tourism Office. The first industrial wave power plant in Europe, the Mutriku Wave Energy Plant, was established in the town in 2011. Utilizing the power of the waves, the plant’s 16 turbines can produce up to 296 kilowatts of electricity, which is enough to power about 250 houses and prevent 600 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually. A significant achievement was made by the plant in 2020 when it produced two gigawatts of electricity in total, a first for any wave plant and a demonstration of the potential of marine power in the global transition to clean energy.

Although the demands of the world may have changed, Basques have always managed to benefit from the sea. For Mutrikuarra, water has always been, is now, and always will be an integral element of life.