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Solar power in Spain

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Spain is the fourth largest manufacturer in the world of solar power technology and exports 80 percent of this output to Germany.[1] Spain is one of the most attractive countries with regard to the development of solar energy, as it has the greatest amount of available sunshine of any country in Europe.

The Spanish government wants to produce 12 percent of primary energy from renewable energy by 2010. That would mean a solar generating capacity of 400 megawatts. Through a ministerial ruling in March 2004, the Spanish government removed economic barriers to grid-connection of renewable energy. The widely applauded Royal Decree 436/2004 equalises conditions for large-scale thermal and photovoltaic plants and guarantees feed-in tariffs.[2]

Solar thermal power plants

In March 2007, Europe's first commercial concentrating solar power tower plant was opened near the sunny southern Spanish city of Seville. The 11 megawatt plant, known as the PS10 solar power tower, produces electricity with 624 large heliostats. Each of these mirrors has a surface measuring 120 square meters (1,290 square feet) that concentrates the Sun's rays to the top of a 115 meter (377 foot) high tower where a solar receiver and a steam turbine are located. The turbine drives a generator, producing electricity. PS10 is the first of a set of solar electric power generation plants to be constructed in the same area that will total more than 300MW by 2013. This power generation will be accomplished using a variety of technologies. [1]

Solar thermal power plants designed for solar-only generation are ideally matched to summer noon peak loads in prosperous areas with significant cooling demands, such as Spain. Using thermal energy storage systems, solar thermal operating periods can even be extended to meet base-load needs. For example, the 50-MWe AndaSol solar trough power plants are designed with six to twelve hours of thermal storage, which increases annual availability by some 1,000 to 2,500 hours.[2]


Construction has started on a 20MW solar photovoltaics power system in Trujillo, Cáceres, in Spain. Costing €150m, the new plant will have double the output of the 10MW Bavaria Solar Park in Germany, the previous largest ever photovoltaic (PV) system. The project will use 200 100 kW units (120,000 PV modules in total), gaining the top feed-in tariff for this type of plant.[3]

BP Solar has begun constructing a new solar photovoltaic (PV) solar cell manufacturing plant at its European headquarters in Tres Cantos, Madrid.[4] For phase one of the Madrid expansion, BP Solar is aiming to expand its annual cell capacity from 55 megawatts (MW) to around 300 MW. Construction of this facility is underway, with the first manufacturing line expected to be fully operational this year.[4]

The new cell lines use innovative screen-printing technology. By fully automating wafer handling, the manufacturing lines will be able to handle the very thinnest of wafers available and ensure the highest quality. [4] This is of particular importance since there has been a silicon shortage in recent years.

Since the beginning of 2007, Aleo Solar AG has also been manufacturing high-quality solar modules for the Spanish market at its own factory in Santa Maria de Palautordera near Barcelona.[4]

New building codes

New building code laws in Spain are now mandating solar hot water for new and remodeled private residences, and photovoltaic to offset some power requirements for all new and remodeled commercial buildings. The new laws also reflect inceased awareness of the importance of better building insulation and the use of daylighting.[5]

Research and Development

The Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA) in Spain, part of the Center for Energy, Environment and Technological Research (CIEMAT), is the largest center for research, development, and testing of concentrating solar technologies in Europe.[6]

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