The rebirth of Spain’s solar sector: 135 MW of new PV systems installed in 2017


A newly installed solar capacity of 135 MW should not be considered an exceptional result for one of Europe’s largest economies such as Spain.

But if you take the Spanish renewable energy market, however, the result can be considered very good, as the country has one of the world’s most hostile solar legislations (and self-consumption in general), while investor confidence has been damaged after a long series of retroactive actions on granted incentives.

This new result, which corresponds to a 145% year-on-year growth in terms of new capacity, was announced by the Spanish solar association, UNEF, which has released provisional numbers for last year’s growth.

In 2016 and 2015, newly installed PV capacity reached just 55 MW and 49 MW, respectively. Overall, Spain's solar industry has seen very limited development since 2012, when a moratorium on incentives for new renewable energy installations was implemented. Specifically, it suspended both earmarking procedures and incentives for new installations.

Last year’s growth, UNEF said, was made possible by the combined effect of a strong reduction in PV equipment prices and the commitment by private citizens, small and medium-sized enterprises, and regional administrations against climate change. Demand was mainly driven by grid-connected PV systems for self-consumption and stand-alone systems for agricultural use, it added.

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“In many sectors, such as agriculture, wine, agri-food, distribution and hotel, several enterprises have decided to opt for the PV technology, as it contributes to significantly reduce the costs of power supply, while increasing competitiveness,” UNEF said in its statement.

This occurred, the Spanish association said, although the current legislation for self-consumption is imposing charges on both existing and new installations, both on a capacity and generation level.

If these numbers are confirmed, Spain’s cumulative PV capacity will stand at more than 4.8 GW.

The association has also highlighted that the country’s installed solar power is set to grow more substantially over the next few years, after the Spanish government allocated around 3.9 GW of PV capacity in an auction held in late July of last year.

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