Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Spain Projects Solidify Its Top Solar-Thermal Ranking

November 13, 2009

Spain approved wind and sun-powered projects today that solidify its ranking as the world's biggest developer of solar thermal energy. The industry ministry approvals will increase the nation's renewable-energy potential by about 37% over three years, allowing builders of 6,000 MWs of wind energy and 2,440 MWs of solar thermal to receive higher prices and priority access to customers than fossil fuel plants.

The solar projects were picked from proposals with a combined potential to supply energy to 6.5 million residences. The nation, which has already attracted developments from France's Alstom SA, is home to the world's largest wind-energy investors, Iberdrola SA and Acciona SA. "This removes any uncertainty and brings regulatory stability to the industry," Jose Javier Ruiz, utilities analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, said today by telephone. "By formalising these projects, the companies can now secure investment."

Spain already has the world's largest development pipeline for solar thermal, which uses the sun's rays to heat liquids to a high enough temperature to produce electricity after sunset. About 2,000 MWs of solar thermal are under construction in the world, with 89% in Spain, according to an October report by industry publication CSP Today and consultant Altran Technologies. Spain has about 23,000 MWs of renewable-energy capacity, including biomass and mini-hydroelectric plants, that produce about as much power as 20 nuclear reactors.

Iberdrola, Alstom
Both forms of clean energy receive subsidised rates paid for by consumers that have fueled development by international investors such as Siemens AG of Germany and FPL Group Inc, of the U.S. The new projects, whose names of individual developers weren't disclosed, enter the ministry's registry and will be allowed to start selling energy over the next three years with their connection to the grid set out in a staggered fashion.

The full list of approved generators will be published next week, a ministry official, who declined to be named, said today. Solar Millennium AG, based in Erlangen, Germany, announced earlier this week that its Andasol 3 and Ibersol projects in Spain were approved. A bottleneck for approvals had developed since June because the government was overwhelmed with applications for green-energy plants and wanted to slow the pace of development.