New mega-projects help send Europe’s solar output soaring to 68TWh in H1 2020

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Iberdrola's Nunez de Balboa project in northern Spain (pictured) has helped send the country's solar output spiralling. Image: Iberdrola.

Europe’s fleet of solar arrays generated 68TWh of power in the first six months of 2020, a 15% increase on last year’s figure as new, larger solar farms came to the fore.

New analysis compiled by energy consultancy EnAppSys shows the steep increase has been driven by newly completed projects in the first half of the year, with the advent of significantly larger sites making considerable contributions to total output in the first half of the year.

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While Europe’s solar generating capacity has increased exponentially since 2015, with markets including Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and France enjoying years wherein multiple gigawatts have been deployed, 2020 has seen the connection of projects significantly larger than before.

EnAppSys paid special mention to Iberdrola’s 500MW Núñez de Balboa project in northern Spain, which was completed late last year but connected to the country’s grid in early Q2 2020. It’s currently Europe’s largest solar farm, with Iberdrola also working on a pipeline of other sites in the hundreds-of-megawatts scale.

EnAppSys’ analysis showed that Spain’s peak solar PV output in the first half of 2020 had risen to 7.1GW, up 51% from the 4.7GW reached in 2019.

And while the increase in solar generation in France has risen more slowly, increasing from a peak output of 6.7GW last year to 7.5GW in H1 2020, the nation’s intent of adding more than 17GW of capacity between now and 2025 was picked out by EnAppSys, with the analysis firm noting the stark change in the two countries since policy decisions in recent years dented investor confidence.

“In both France and Spain, governments responded with urgent reforms in the face of increasing subsidy costs, which plunged the industry in both countries into a period of uncertainty from which it has only recently begun to recover.

“Since 2016, however, both France and Spain have set ambitious growth targets to be achieved by the introduction of regular auctions for utility-scale projects to be supported via a feed-in premium system,” Rob Lalor, director at EnAppSys, said.

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