The development of large-scale solar projects in Spain is once again seeing uninterrupted activity, since it became clear that the spot market and the PPA segment can offer the possibility of bankable projects. Despite this level of activity, a series of challenges remain, that prevent the Spanish PV sector from booming again.
Although the first unsubsidized projects are expected to come online in early 2019, the development of big solar plants keeps moving forward, thanks to an increasing number of approved projects and PPAs secured by developers and investors.
Solar boost for the Balearics
The latest project approved by Spanish regional authorities is the Parque Fotovoltaico del Cap Blanc, a 42 MW project planned for the municipality of Llucmajor, which is the largest municipality of the Balearic Island Majorca.
The Autonomous Community of the Balearic Islands announced on Friday that the project has obtained the declaration of public interest, a step which is intended to fast-track its development and construction. “This declaration is the last step of the Autonomous Administration in the realization of the park, which will await the authorization of grid-connection by the national Ministry for the Ecological Transition,” the local government said in its statement.
If built, the solar park will raise the archipelago’s power generation capacity by more than a third; it currently stands at around 80 MW. The autonomous government of the Balearic Islands also stressed that the solar plant has already received environmental approval by the local authorities, and that another 14 smaller MW-sized solar parks are currently under development in the region.
The archipelago's Department of Energy unveiled a new energy strategy that aims at reducing power production from fossil fuels and increasing electricity generation from solar in 2017. The plan includes the closure of the most contaminating unit of Endesa’s Es Murterar, a coal- and gas-fired power station located in Central de Alcudia, on the island of Mallorca, and their gradual replacement with several large-scale solar plants at a first stage.
Another PPA for a giant project
Meanwhile, Spanish power utility and wind project specialist Iberdrola has announced it will supply Spain’s financial services provider Kutxabank with solar generated electricity under a long-term PPA. The company said that the electricity will be provided by its Planta Solar Núñez de Balboa, which is currently being built in the municipality of Usagre, in the province of Badajoz, in Spain’s southern region of Extremadura.
“This contract will allow the Kutxabank Group to exclusively consume this type of renewable electricity in all its facilities and bank branches, distributed throughout Spain,” Iberdrola stated.
Originally conceived by Spanish renewable energy developer Grupo Eco in 2012, the Planta Solar Núñez de Balboa will include the construction of a substation with a capacity of 30/400 kV and a 400 kV transmission line with a length of 12.3 km. According to a document published in the country’s official journal, the solar plant is expected to produce around 850 GWh per year and to avoid the emission of 303.450 tonnes of CO2.
More approved projects in the south
On the top of these two big developments, several large-scale solar projects have been approved in the south of the country last week.
The National Secretariat of Planning and Development of the region of Extremadura has released a declaration of environmental impact for the 42 MW solar project “Quijote”, which is being planned for the municipality of Logrosán, in the province of Cáceres.
According to the local official journal, the project is being proposed by the company Furatena Solar, SLU, and is expected to be built in six sections ranging in size from 5.6 MW to 7.3 MW.
Meanwhile, the government of the region of Castilla-La Mancha, also located in the south of Spain, has announced on its official journal that Spanish renewable energy company Renovalia has submitted a request for environmental approval for six PV plants totaling 105 MW that it intends to construct in El Bonal de Puertollano. According to the local government, the portfolio consists of three 15 MW plants and another three 20 MW facilities, while total investment is expected to range from €70 million to €80 million.
According to the Spanish solar association, UNEF, Spain had around 24 GW of large-scale PV projects under review in mid-March.