The largest photovoltaic plant in Europe has just come into operation, and today, at 12 noon, it discharged its first MWh of clean energy into the electricity grid. Iberdrola has succeeded in commissioning the Núñez de Balboa project – the biggest photovoltaic plant in Europe – in record time. It was built in just one year and completed last December.
Núñez de Balboa, with 500 megawatts (MW) of installed power and involving an investment approaching €300m, is between the towns of Usagre, Hinojosa del Valle and Bienvenida in Badajoz. The plant, which is being developed in collaboration with Ecoenergías del Guadiana, is a record-breaking renewable flagship project:
• Millions of components: the installation of 1,430,000 solar panels, 115 inverters and two substations requiring the delivery of a total of 3,200 containers.
• Job creation: more than 1,200 employees were employed during peak period, 70% of them from Extremadura;
• Revitalising the industry: building the plant has boosted the value chain with purchases worth €227 million from some thirty suppliers.
• Action against climate change: the plant will generate clean energy to supply 250,000 people a year – equivalent to the populations of Cáceres and Badajoz combined – and will prevent the emission of 215,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere per year.
• Green finance project: Iberdrola received green financing from the EIB and the ICO Spain’s state financial agency for the project.
• Promoting sustainable consumption: in a pioneering move for Spain, the project will supply clean energy to major clients committed to sustainable consumption in the banking, telecommunications and distribution sectors through long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).
• Education and training on renewables: Iberdrola and the Councils of Usagre and the Commonwealth of Llerena are collaborating to train students at Campiña Sur Vocational School in Extremadura, with educational site visits and work experience programmes at the plant.
A further 1,300 MW in renewables in the pipeline in Extremadura
Iberdrola is focusing its renewable strategy in Spain in Extremadura, where it plans to install more than 2,000 MW of photovoltaic generation by 2022.
Following the commissioning of Núñez de Balboa (500 MW), the company has more than 1,300 MW in six renewable photovoltaic projects in the pipeline: Francisco Pizarro (590 MW)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. It also has 300 MW with grid access available to plan another photovoltaic project.
Iberdrola expects to start building Campo Arañuelo (Arañuelo I, II and III), with 150 MW of power in the near future. This development will create up to 200 jobs in the construction phase and have a high level of local involvement, since the engineering and environmental works have been awarded to Extremadura-based firm Ecoenergías del Guadiana and the power transformers will be supplied by Faramax. The project also includes an energy storage system with an innovative battery.
Clean energy relaunch plan in Spain
Iberdrola’s plan to invest in renewable energies in Spain includes installing 3,000 new MW by 2022. By 2030, company expects to have installed 10,000 new MW. These projects will create jobs for 20,000 people.
Iberdrola leads Spain in renewable energies, with an installed wind power capacity of 6,000 MW and over 16,000 MW in renewable energy; an figure of around 32,000 MW worldwide. Its generation facilities are among the cleanest in the energy sector.
Iberdrola’s commitment to a decarbonised economic model has led it to earmark 10 billion euros a year for investment in renewable energies, smart electricity distribution networks and storage technologies, on top of the 100 billion already invested since 2001. Of these, 25 billion have been invested in Spain.