Spain’s non-peninsular scheme to deliver 150MW of solar to Canary Islands

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The Canary Islands' current power system is isolated and small making renewables integration tricky. Image credit: Michal Mrozek / Unsplash

Spain is planning 150MW of solar PV in the Canary Islands, supported by a new €20 million (US$21.75 million) fund announced by Energy minister Sara Aagesen. 

The ‘SolCan’ scheme is the third phase of the European nation’s renewable energy island programme, which has already seen wind supported in the Canary Islands under the ‘EolCan’ initiative and 326MW of solar facilitated in the Balearic Islands under ‘SoLBal’. Put together, the programmes, which are backed by EU regional funds, have drawn €620 million (US$674 million) in investment to develop 650MW of renewable energy. 

While the Iberian Peninsula recorded a 38.6% share of renewable energy in its electricity production in 2019, the Canary Islands' renewables contributed just 16.4% to the territory's production in the same year. The government's plan to start up new PV facilities in the archipelago as soon as possible is meant to boost security and energy independence, by diversifying from primary power sources. 

Integrating renewables into the system in the Canary Islands is expected to be challenging since the current power matrix and demand are isolated and small. However, significant inroads have already been made with, for example, the island of El Hierro being supported by a 100% renewable energy system. The local government has also made efforts to progress in October 2019 by inviting the public to weigh in on three PV projects totalling 19.71MW on the island of Fuerteventura. 

Minister Aagesen gave details on the SolCan plans this week in an online meeting with members of the government of the Canary Islands, the local energy sector and the ministerial renewables agency, Institute for Diversification and Energy Saving (IDAE).  

The PV capacity will be co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through grants, once projects have been verified.

The new support scheme comes under the Operational Program for Sustainable Growth 2014-2020 (POCS) of the FEDER programme, which focuses on renewables, especially in the so-called Electrical Systems in Non-Peninsular Territories (SETNP). 

SolCan is awaiting further debate and subsequent approval by the Spain's Council of Ministers. 

The Balearic Islands’ debut auction took place last December with Enel Green Power among the renewable players winning capacity. Before that, in November 2019, the Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative also released a handbook including theory and practical advice to help islands evolve into clean energy hubs, drawing from the experiences of six pilot projects. 

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