|Map of yearly total solar radiation in Europe. Source: PVGIS|
Santander, a leading European and Latin American banking group, and BP Solar are developing the largest project for the investment in photovoltaic solar energy yet in Europe. The project will deploy up to 278 photovoltaic solar energy facilities in Spain with a total aggregate capacity ranging between 18 and 25 MW. This represents twice Spain’s current photovoltaic solar energy capacity, according to the companies.
The construction of the solar plants, which will begin next May, is scheduled to be completed in December 2007 and will require an investment of up to €160 million (US$198 million). Each of the plants will have a capacity of between 90 and 100 kW.
BP Solar will be in charge of building the facilities, by means of turnkey contracts covering the entire process, from the production of solar panels at its factories to the installation and maintenance of those plants.
Santander will incorporate and finance the companies owning the various photovoltaic solar energy production plants. The shareholders of each of these companies will consist entirely of private Investors who have already conveyed to Santander Private Banking their interest in taking part in projects for the investment in renewable energy sources.
The plants will sell the power they produce to the nearest electric power distribution companies, at the prices set by the Spanish government in 2004 in Royal Decree 436/2004. Royal Decree 436/2004 promotes the use of photovoltaic solar energy by establishing a rate that is 575% the Average Reference Rate, guaranteed during 25 years.
The 2005-2010 Renewable Energy Plan (PER in the Spanish acronym), passed in August 2005 by the Spanish Council of Ministers, aims to cover 12% of Spain’s power consumption with renewable energy sources in 2010. This Plan has set a target of 400 MW of installed photovoltaic solar energy capacity.
Spain enjoys the highest number of hours of sunlight in Europe, making it a good prospect for solar energy. BP Solar has its European headquarters in Tres Cantos (Madrid). Spain is the world’s fourth largest manufacturer of technologies for the production of solar energy and it exports 80% of this production to Germany.
Spain has also seen its greenhouse gas emissions rise 48% from 1990 to 2004, climbing from 289.4 million metric tons CO2 equivalent to 428 million metric tons, according to a report produced by the Environment Ministry that will be sent to the European Commission. Greenhouse gas emissions rose 4.8% from 2003 to 2004. (Earlier post.)