ANPIER urges Spanish authorities to curb construction of mega-solar projects

Europe’s largest PV plant, the 500MW Núñez de Balboa park in Spain, was completed by Iberdrola last year. Image: Iberdrola.

Spain should limit the size of new solar parks to encourage the deployment of smaller projects located closer to consumers, the country’s National Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers (ANPIER) has said.

This would reduce the amount of electricity lost in transmission and allow communities across the country to benefit from new project construction, according to the trade body.

Some 99 solar projects larger than 10MW were registered in Spain between 2016 and 2020, six of which have a capacity greater than 100MW. The country is home to Europe’s largest PV plant, a 500MW installation from Iberdrola, and currently has three projects with a capacity of 300MW or higher under development.

The trade association said “excessive speculation by large investment funds is taking advantage of the weaknesses of our administrations and the lack of citizen information to implement almost infinite surfaces of photovoltaic panels”, adding that these mega-projects are “already saturating networks”.

ANPIER president Miguel Ángel Martínez-Aroca said that large industry players can take advantage of economies of scale to develop the projects, resulting in “economic returns leaving our country”.

Instead of backing such installations, ANPIER is calling on authorities to instead support the deployment of smaller solar projects with a capacity of between 1MW and 10MW, a strategy it said would not increase the cost of electricity distribution.

The trade body said other European countries have successfully deployed small and medium-sized PV plants that it claims are better integrated into rural areas and owned by local initiatives.

With Spain’s new auction mechanism foreseeing at least 10GW of PV to be awarded by 2025, the first auction saw PV bidders pick up more than 2GW of capacity, divided into 66 lots, with an average lot capacity of 30MW.

While UNEF said the results illustrate the competitiveness of Spain’s solar sector, the trade association called for upcoming auctions to have 20% of capacity reserved specifically for PV projects smaller than 10MW.

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