Solar power in Spain
Spain is one of the most advanced countries in the development of solar energy, and it is one of the European countries with the most hours of sunshine. In 2008 the Spanish government committed to achieving a target of 12 percent of primary energy from renewable energy by 2010 and by 2020 expects the installed solar generating capacity of 10,000 megawatts (MW). Spain is the fourth largest manufacturer in the world of solar power technology and exports 80 percent of this output to Germany. Spain added a record 2.6 GW of solar power in 2008, increasing capacity to 3.5 GW. Total solar power in Spain was 3.859 GW by the end of 2010 and solar energy produced 6.9 terawatt-hours (TW·h), covering 2.7% of the electricity demand in 2010. By the end of 2012, 4.516 GW had been installed, and that year 8.169 TWh of electricity was produced.
Since 2010, Spain has been the world's leader in concentrated solar power (CSP), and by the end of 2012 had installed over 2,000 MW of CSP.
Through a ministerial ruling in March 2004, the Spanish government removed economic barriers to the connection of renewable energy technologies to the electricity grid. The Royal Decree 436/2004 equalized conditions for large-scale solar thermal and photovoltaic plants and guaranteed feed-in tariffs. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Spanish government drastically cut its subsidies for solar power and capped future increases in capacity at 500 MW per year, with effects upon the industry worldwide.
Solar thermal power plants
In March 2007, Europe's first commercial concentrating solar power tower plant was opened near the sunny Andalusian city of Seville. The 11 MW plant, known as the PS10 solar power tower, produces electricity with 624 large heliostats. Each of these mirrors has a surface measuring 120 square meters (1,290 square feet) that concentrates the Sun's rays to the top of a 115 meter (377 feet) high tower where a solar receiver and a steam turbine are located. The turbine drives a generator, producing electricity.
The Andasol 1 solar power station is Europe’s first parabolic trough commercial power plant (50 MWe), located near Guadix in the province of Granada, also in Andalusia (the plant is named after the region). The Andasol 1 power plant went online in November 2008, and has a thermal storage system which absorbs part of the heat produced in the solar field during the day. This heat is then stored in a molten salt mixture and used to generate electricity during the night, or when the sky is overcast.
A 15 MWe solar-only power tower plant, the Solar Tres project, is in the hands of the Spanish company SENER, employing molten salt technologies for receiving and energy storage. Its 16-hour molten salt storage system will be able to deliver power around the clock. The Solar Tres project has received a €5 million grant from the EC’s Fifth Framework Programme.
Solar thermal power plants designed for solar-only generation are well matched to summer noon peak loads in prosperous areas with significant cooling demands, such as Spain. Using thermal energy storage systems, solar thermal operating periods can even be extended to meet base-load needs.
Abengoa Solar began commercial operation of a 20-megawatt solar power tower plant near Seville in late April, 2009. Called the PS20, the plant uses a field of 1,255 flat mirrors, or heliostats, to concentrate sunlight on a receiver mounted on a central tower. Water pumped up the tower and through the receiver boils into steam, which is then directed through a turbine to produce electricity. The new facility is located adjacent to one with half its capacity, called PS10, which was the world's first commercial solar power tower plant. According to Abengoa Solar, the new facility is exceeding its predicted power output.
|Name of Plant||DC
Peak Power (MWp)
|Puerto Errado 1||1.5||2009|
|La Florida||50||July 2010|
|La Dehesa||50||November 2010|
|Palma del Rio 2||50||2011|
|Palma del Rio 1||50||2011|
|Puerto Errado 2||30||2012|
|Helios 1||50||May 2012|
|Solaben 3||50||June 2012|
|La Africana||50||July 2012|
|Olivenza 1||50||July 2012|
|Helios 2||50||August 2012|
|Extresol 3||50||August 2012|
|Solaben 2||50||October 2012|
|Termosolar Borges||25||December 2012|
Solar photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity and many solar photovoltaic power stations have been built in Spain. As of November 2010, the largest photovoltaic (PV) power plants in Spain are the Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park (60 MW), Puertollano Photovoltaic Park (47.6 MW), Planta Solar La Magascona & La Magasquila (34.5 MW), Arnedo Solar Plant (34 MW) and Planta Solar Dulcinea (31.8 MW).
BP Solar begun constructing a new solar photovoltaic cell manufacturing plant at its European headquarters in Tres Cantos, Madrid. For phase one of the Madrid expansion, BP Solar aimed to expand its annual cell capacity from 55 MW to around 300 MW. Construction of this facility was underway, with the first manufacturing line expected to be fully operational in 2009. The new cell lines would use innovative screen-printing technology. By fully automating wafer handling, the manufacturing lines would be able to handle the very thinnest of wafers available and ensure the highest quality. Thin wafers are of particular importance since there has been a silicon shortage in recent years. However, after the new national law limiting installed power by year, in April 2009 BP Solar is closing its factories.
|Castile and León||410||467|
|Ceuta and Melilla||0.1||0.1|
|Community of Madrid||38||48|
|Region of Murcia||357||404|
Policies, laws and incentives
New building codes
New building code laws in Spain are now mandating solar hot water for new and remodeled private residences, and photovoltaics to offset some power requirements for all new and remodeled commercial buildings. The new laws also reflect increased awareness of the importance of better building insulation and the use of daylighting.
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Spanish government drastically cut its subsidies for solar power and capped future increases in capacity at 500 MW per year, with effects upon the industry worldwide. "The solar industry in 2009 has been undermined by [a] collapse in demand due to the decision by Spain," according to Henning Wicht, a solar-power analyst. In 2010, the Spanish government went further, retroactively cutting subsidies for existing solar projects, aiming to save several billion euro it owed. According to the Photovoltaic Industry Association, several hundred photovoltaic plant operators may face bankruptcy. Phil Dominy of Ernst & Young, comparing the feed-in tariff reductions in Germany and Italy, said "Spain stands out as an example of how not to do it." As a result, a Spanish association of solar power producers has announced its intention to go to court over the government’s plans to cap solar subsidies. In 2014 alternative energy group NextEra filed a complaint against Spain at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
Research and development
The Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA), part of the Center for Energy, Environment and Technological Research (CIEMAT), is a center for research, development, and testing of concentrating solar power technologies. ISFOC in Puertollano is a development institute for concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) which evaluates CPV technologies at the pilot production scale to optimize operation and determine cost. Technical University of Madrid has a photovoltaic research group. Solar Concentra is the Spanish technology platform for concentrated solar power (CSP). It was created 2010, and it gathers the effort of the different agents of the CPS sector in Spain.
- Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change
- Deployment of solar power to energy grids
- List of renewable energy topics by country
- Plataforma Solar de Almería
- Renewable energy in Spain
- Solar power in the European Union
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- General Description of the PSA
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- Andasol 1
- Spain pioneers grid-connected solar-tower thermal power
- Photovoltaic solar power grows fast in Spain
- GM installs world's biggest rooftop solar panels
- Is the Sun Setting on Solar Power in Spain?