Europe’s biggest SolarPV electricity generating plant built in Spain

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Núñez de Balboa is Europe's biggest solarPV plant. Credit Iberdola.

SPAIN is now the proud possessor of Europe’s biggest solar photovoltaic (solarPV) plant. 

Generation and supply company Iberdrola has completed in just one year – a record time – the construction of the Núñez de Balboa project, which recently obtained its commissioning permit from the Ministry for Ecological Transition. 

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Now Red Eléctrica de España (REE), the national grid, has started energisation tests, which if passed means the plant is forecast to start operations in the first quarter of 2020. 

With the completion of Núñez de Balboa, which has an installed capacity of 500 megawatts (MW) at a cost of nearly €300 million, Iberdrola moves forward with what it calls its plan to relaunch green energy in Spain. It forecasts the installation of 3,000 MW by 2022, with Extremadura at the centre of its strategy. 

Núñez de Balboa extends over an area of some 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) straddling the municipalities of Usagre, Hinojosa del Valle and Bienvenida in the province of Badajoz. The plant, promoted in collaboration with Ecoenergías del Guadiana, is a flagship renewable project that has broken records. 
With the installation of 1,430,000 solar panels,115 inverters and two substations it contains millio0ns of components. 


The project has given the Extremadura region of Spain an economic boost. it requires more than 1,200 employees during peak-work periods; 70 per cent of them from Extremadura. 

Its construction has contributed to the development of the value chain, with purchases from some 30 suppliers, many of them local, worth €227 million. 


The plant will generate clean energy to supply the needs of 250,000 people a year – equivalent to the populations of Cáceres and Badajoz combined – and will avoid the emission of 215,000 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere per year. 

For its development, Iberdrola received green financing from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO), Spain’s state financial agency.  

A pioneer in Spain, with long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in place, the project will supply clean energy to major clients committed to sustainable consumption in the banking, telecommunications and retail sectors. 

Iberdrola has placed Extremadura at the centre of its renewable strategy in Spain, where it plans to install more than 2,000 MW of photovoltaic energy by 2022. 

In addition to Núñez de Balboa (500 MW), the company has more than 1,300 MW in renewables in six pipeline photovoltaic projects: Francisco Pizarro (590 MW), located in Torrecillas de la Tiesa; Ceclavín (328 MW), in Alcántara; Arenales (150 MW), in Cáceres; Campo Arañuelo I, II and III (150 MW), in the district of Almaraz; and Majada Alata and San Antonio (50 MW each), in Cedillo. Furthermore it has 300 MW grid access available with which to plan another photovoltaic project.  

Thanks to the regional administration’s agility in processing renewable projects, construction of the next plant, the Campo Arañuelo complex (Arañuelo I, II and III), with 150 MW, will be able to start in early 2020. This development, which could create another 200 jobs during its construction, has a high level of local involvement, the engineering and environmental works having been awarded to Badajoz-based Ecoenergías del Guadiana and the power transformers being supplied by Faramax, of Cáceres. The project also includes an energy storage system involving the use of an innovative battery.   
Iberdrola’s plan to invest in renewable energies in Spain includes the installation of 10,000 new MW by 2030. These actions will enable jobs to be created for 20,000 people. 

Currently, the company’s projects in construction and at the detail design stage – wind and photovoltaic – amount to more than 4,000 MW in Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Navarre, Aragon, Murcia, Cantabria and Andalusia. 

In Spain, Iberdrola is the leader in renewable energies, with an installed capacity of 16,000 MW (over 30,300 MW worldwide), making its generation facilities some of the cleanest in the energy sector. 

Iberdrola’s commitment to a decarbonised economic model has led it to earmark €10 billion a year for investment in renewable energies, smart electricity distribution networks and storage technologies, on top of the €100 billion already invested since 2001. 

  




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