Spanish summer not bad for solar PV

Solar PV generated 4.3% of Spain’s electricity between June and August, 0.37% less than in the summer of 2013, when solar it generated 4.67% of the country’s electricity demand.

By contrast, electricity output from concentrated solar photovoltaic (CSP) plants this summer accounted for a 0.83% increase compared on a year earlier with CSP on the mainland producing 3.93% of the country’s electricity from June to August, compared to 3.1% a year ago.

Reduced electricity demand

Spanish grid operator Red Eléctrica de España (REE) noted electricity demand in the first eight months of 2014 amounted 162.3 TWh, 1.4% less than in the same period of 2013.

A separate REE report covering the electricity sector until the end of 2013 found the country’s "electricity demand in 2013 fell for the third consecutive year reaching similar levels to eight years ago". The decrease, the report said, is consistent with the behaviour of the Spanish economy, that also registered a fall in GDP in 2013 and 2012.

The data relates to Spain’s peninsular system only, although data from the Balearics and the Gran Canaria are not expected to have a major impact on the country’s overall energy picture.

Conclusions

REE’s data appear significant in two ways. Firstly, they confirm the significance of solar energy in the country’s energy mix and secondly, they appear to confirm the view of Aitor Ciarreta, professor of economics at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, who recently told pv magazine "excess capacity together with depressed demand remains Spain’s solar energy sector’s major problem."

An REE spokesperson told pv magazine the country’s peninsular and non-peninsular electricity systems had installed, at the end of 2013, a cumulative 4.422 GW and 243 MW of solar PV, respectively. CSP capacity is installed only in the country’s mainland system, totaling 2.3 GW at the end of December.

The abolition of Spain’s feed-in tariff (FIT) last year and the recently-filed legislation amendment to the country’s renewable energy law (the RD413/2014, passed in June) appear unlikely to alter Spain’s solar energy capacity or drive new solar investment in the near future.