Solar in Spain

Solar Installed Capacity7.13GW

The Spanish solar market represents about 5% of the global PV market and in recent years its growth has slowed down significantly compared to rest of Europe. This decrease in growth can be explained by the end of all subsidies to solar energy in 2012 as a result of a wider economic review by the Spanish government. According to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), Spain’s national target for solar capacity is 8,367 MW by 2020.

With over 5GW already installed, the EPIA estimates that Spain only needs to add 400MW of solar capacity every year to reach the necessary target. The EPIA also estimates that Spain should be able to add over 1500 MW of solar energy every year.

According to IRENA, Spain has a target to meet 3% of total energy demand from solar by 2020. The report goes to say that Spain has a target to generate 38% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020 however by 2011 Spain already surpassed that target and more than 40% of its electricity is was being generated through renewable energy in that year.

Spain has one of the highest levels of solar irradiance in Europe. With some regions receiving 2000 kWh per square metre annually, Southern Spain receives sunlight comparable to Northern Africa making this part of the country particularly suitable PV deployment. According to EPIA, ground mounted solar farms account for about 80% of the total Spanish solar market and the rest of solar capacity is built for commercial and industrial use. Spain’s residential solar market is only about 1% of the national solar market.

The largest PV power plant in Spain is the Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park which was completed in 2008. It has a peak capacity of 60MW and at the time of completion it was the largest solar plant in the world. A larger solar power plant in the South Western near Cadiz is currently being built by Tentosul and when completed, it will have a peak capacity of 250 MW. This project is the first unsubsidised utility-scale solar project in Spain with an estimated cost of €275 million.

Castilla La Mancha is the largest regional market with about 1000 MW solar capacity installed, Andalucia is the second largest with over 800 MW. Other regions which have significant amount of solar installations include Castilla y Leon, La Comunidad Valenciana, Extremadura and Murcia. All four of these regions have more than 300 MW of installed capacity each.