The horizon of photovoltaic solar energy lights up


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Photovoltaic solar energy is having a sweet time. In a context of
record prices on the electricity bill
Due to the high price of gas, the development of renewable generation projects is gaining traction again with the aim of obtaining cheap and clean energy. And, among all renewable sources, the solar is on the runway to experience strong growth in the construction of large photovoltaic generation plants and in self-consumption.

It is expected that solar energy will grow more than wind in Spain by 2030. According to the national energy plan PNIEC 2021-2030, the installed power in photovoltaic solar will go from the current 13.4 GW to 39 GW in 2030. This is a growth of 191%, a percentage higher than the 79% growth estimated in installed wind power generation capacity during the same period. Today, wind power had an installed capacity of 27.9 GW that will increase to 39 GW in 2030, according to the draft of the PNIEC sent to Brussels for approval.

“It is the most competitive source of electricity generation in Spain”, he says Rafael Benjumea, president of UNEF, a photovoltaic association. According to the expert, the cost of installing a solar plant was 8 million euros per megawatt (MW) in 2006, an amount that currently it has dropped to 500,000 euros. Meanwhile, the price paid by the market for each MW / hour has gone from 500 euros in 2006 to around 26 euros per MWh today.

Building a solar generation plant is cheaper, while energy production systems are more efficient and allow the owners of photovoltaic parks sell electricity at cheaper prices. All of this has been possible thanks to the development of solar photovoltaic technology in the last decade, he explains. Juan Jose Coble, professor at Nebrija University.

Much of this technological development is driven by the China’s push for renewables, in an attempt to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. “The investments that China has made in renewables have introduced great competition in the market. This translates into new technologies and more efficient products, ”explains Coble, who directs the master’s degree in renewable energy and energy efficiency at Nebrija University.

Wind saturation

Another factor that will boost the development of solar projects in Spain revolves around the difficulty of finding locations with ideal conditions for wind power. «Good wind sites are already taken. The ones that are available are not that attractive, ”says Coble. In this regard, it is likely that part of the investment in renewable energy will be diverted from wind to solar, since photovoltaics have a greater margin to be installed in more places.

In this sense, photovoltaics are expected to double its contribution to the total installed power generation capacity in Spain in the next decade. Wind power currently represents 24.9% of the 112.1 GW of installed power in Spain, while solar is 12%. If the PNIEC forecasts for 2030 are fulfilled, of the 160 GW that will then have installed power, wind will represent 31.3% and solar will represent 24.4% of the total.

Most of the photovoltaic power in plants is concentrated in southern Spain. The communities with the most MW installed are Andalusia, Extremadura, Castilla La Mancha and Murcia, according to UNEF. In Coble’s opinion, Spain enjoys very good climatic conditions to develop solar projects in the northern half of the peninsula. “Solar panels work best in low outside temperatures. Spain has a good level of solar irradiation and the northern half has temperatures a little lower than the south, “says the expert.

Bureaucratic challenges

Bureaucratic processes are the main challenge that limits the development of large photovoltaic plants, explains Benjumea, from the UNEF association. «Processes move very slowly. There is a collapse in the administrations and that delays the possibility of supplying cheap energy to the market, “he says.

The administrative challenge also hinders the development of self-consumption. However, in this case some autonomous communities have approved a measure to exempt the construction license process to speed up the construction of self-consumption facilities in homes. Another of UNEF’s demands to boost self-consumption consists of modify the Horizontal Property Law to make it easier to install solar panels in buildings.

“We see the future of solar energy bright,” he says Carlota Pi, president of Holaluz, a gas and renewable energy marketer. For Pi, Spain is facing a great opportunity to transform all square meters of roof into green power generation units. «In Spain there are 10 million roofs that belong to residential customers. About 2 million of that total correspond to multi-dwelling buildings, “he says.

Compared with other European countries, self-consumption has only just begun to take off in Spain. «There are more solar plants in Brussels homes than in the whole of Spain“Says Pi. According to the expert, this delay is due to the popularly known as
‘tax on the sun’
, a tax repealed in December 2018 that hindered the development of self-consumption. An installation of solar panels at home, which costs between 5,000 and 7,000 euros, it can suppose up to 60% of saving in the invoice of the light, always according to the estimates of this company. “We are in a process of revolutionizing the rooftops to develop a solar generation network distributed throughout the country,” concludes Pi. In large parks or on small rooftops, the horizon of photovoltaic solar energy seems completely clear.

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