This massive project in Spain is the latest milestone in Europe’s solar power boom

environment

Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. European Union, 2020 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service.

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Johnny Wood, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Construction is completed and testing is underway on a huge photovoltaic installation in Spain.
  • The solar plant will supply emissions-free electricity to a quarter of a million people.
  • The Núñez de Balboa project could reduce annual CO2 emissions by more than 200,000 tonnes.
  • Investment and capacity is set to increase significantly in coming decades.

It covers an area equivalent to 1,200 football pitches and is the biggest of its kind in Europe. The huge Núñez de Balboa solar power project is the latest addition to Spain’s growing renewable energy sector.

The site in western Spain houses more than 1.4 million solar panels, capable of producing 500 megawatts of installed capacity when fully operational – enough power to supply clean energy to 250,000 people. Energy harvested from the sun’s rays travels to a substation along a network of 2,000 kilometres of electrical cables, to service local homes and businesses.

environment renewable solar energy change transition friendly environment carbon footprint carbon emissions reduction change natural climate change global warming air pollution clean energy power renewables
Spain’s latest solar megaproject covers 10 square kilometres.
Image: Iberdrola

With construction completed, Spanish power company Ibersola’s new solar plant is undergoing testing with grid operator Eléctrica de España (REE), ready for operations to begin in 2020.

Clean energy from the 10 square kilometre site could cut an estimated 215,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. That’s the equivalent of removing around 45,000 cars from Spain’s roads.

Panel power

The project’s status as the biggest of its kind in Europe could be shortlived, however, as the solar sector continues its rapid growth.

Research by SolarPower Europe says 2019 was among the best years ever for European solar, with EU countries adding 16.7 gigawatts of capacity – twice as much as was added in the previous year. Spain was the largest solar market in Europe that year.

Energy prices from renewables like solar power and wind farms are falling fast, as technical advances and efficiency gains increase their competitiveness.

As the subsidies that once characterized European solar projects are largely a thing of the past, cost-conscious developers are increasingly exploiting economies of scale by building bigger and more efficient plants. For example, the Francisco Pizarro project is a 590 megawatt solar plant in Spain, which will be bigger than Núñez de Balboa when completed in 2022.

environment renewable solar energy change transition friendly environment carbon footprint carbon emissions reduction change natural climate change global warming air pollution clean energy power renewables
In 2018,102.4 gigawatts of PV capacity were added globally.
Image: Statista

Global boom

The situation in Europe is mirrored around the world.

Solar PV could cover a quarter of global electricity needs by 2050, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency – with benefits for more than just the planet. The solar industry could employ over 18 million people by that point.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?

Moving to clean energy is key to combating climate change, yet in the past five years, the energy transition has stagnated.

Energy consumption and production contribute to two-thirds of global emissions, and 81% of the global energy system is still based on fossil fuels, the same percentage as 30 years ago. Plus, improvements in the energy intensity of the global economy (the amount of energy used per unit of economic activity) are slowing. In 2018 energy intensity improved by 1.2%, the slowest rate since 2010.

Effective policies, private-sector action and public-private cooperation are needed to create a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure global energy system.

Benchmarking progress is essential to a successful transition. The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which ranks 115 economies on how well they balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability, shows that the biggest challenge facing energy transition is the lack of readiness among the world’s largest emitters, including US, China, India and Russia. The 10 countries that score the highest in terms of readiness account for only 2.6% of global annual emissions.

To future-proof the global energy system, the Forum’s Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials Platform is working on initiatives including, Systemic Efficiency, Innovation and Clean Energy and the Global Battery Alliance to encourage and enable innovative energy investments, technologies and solutions.

Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.

The growing cost competitiveness of renewables is a vital component in their meteoric take-up, but there is another cost that’s growing in significance. As the climate crisis deepens, the environmental cost of burning fossil fuels is adding to the attraction of emissions-free energy from solar power, wind farms and other renewable sources.

But renewables have different characteristics to traditional power sources, like oil or coal, and a rethink of our energy systems is needed to accommodate their growth.

Investment in smart electricity networks and electricity storage solutions will be crucial to provide power when there is no wind or sunshine – and to maximize the potential of sustainable options in tomorrow’s energy mix.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The World Health Organization has called on countries to ‘test, test, test’ for coronavirus – this is why

UN Mission in Haiti calls on protestors, authorities, to refrain from violence

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Blue’ finance flows in the Seychelles

Inflation not a problem for Europe

Human Rights Council election: 5 things you need to know about it

Youth Forum welcomes European Commission proposal to speed up financing for youth employment

First aid in six months reaches families in western Yemen, ‘timelines’ slip over Hudaydah ceasefire talks

Prospect of lasting peace ‘fading by the day’ in Gaza and West Bank, senior UN envoy warns

UN health agency team in China to strengthen coronavirus response through partnership

Civil protection: Parliament strengthens EU disaster response capability

Victims’ Rights: New Strategy to empower victims

The hidden pandemic: mental illness

From inconvenience to opportunity: the importance of international medical exchanges

How LA plans to be 1.6°C cooler by 2050

Terrorist content online: companies to be given just one hour to remove it

Can medical students be prepared for Global Health ethical issues?

Environment and health at increasing risk from growing weight of ‘e-waste’

‘No safe way’ into battle-scarred Afghan city of Ghazni to deliver aid as traumatized children search for parents

Africa Forum aims to boost business, reduce costs, help countries trade out of poverty

FROM THE FIELD: Argentina Preserving Pristine Forests

Single-use plastics: New EU rules to reduce marine litter

UN rights chief urges ‘immediate dialogue’ to end Chile unrest

Inspiring medical students to choose primary health care

Here are four steps SMEs can take for long-term success

What’s behind South Korea’s elderly crime wave?

Will the three major parties retain control of the new EU Parliament?

3 ways to nurture collaboration between universities and industry

Systems leadership can change the world – but what exactly is it?

‘Real change’ involving women in peace and security, still too slow, Guterres tells Security Council

How to build a better world for heart health after COVID-19

This Japanese politician is making history – by taking paternity leave

Rohingya refugee shelters ‘washed away’ in Bangladesh monsoon rains: UN agency

How ‘savings circles’ empower women in rural Africa

DRC ‘calm but tense’ as country awaits presidential election result

5 challenges for government adoption of AI

Should Europe be afraid of the developing world?

State of the Union 2017: Juncker’s optimism about EU growth and Brexit’s impact

Eurozone’s central bank leadership prepares for shoddier prospects

In wake of ‘collapsed’ agreement, new wave of violence threatens millions in Syria’s Idlib

COVID-19 and nature are linked. So should be the recovery.

Eurozone: Austerity brings new political tremors

Australia’s bushfires have pumped out half a year’s CO2 emissions

Cultural tolerance is a must: “No sir, I’m not inferior!”

It takes far too long for a rare disease to be diagnosed. Here’s how that can change

5 ways governments can unleash the power of young entrepreneurs

A Sting Exclusive: “Regional Policy: a fully-fledged investment policy”, Commissioner Cretu reveals live from European Business Summit 2015

On our way to China

COVID-19: MEPs urge quick action to prevent “huge recession”

Telemedicine can be a COVID-19 game-changer. Here’s how

More progress needed on reducing and redesigning agricultural support policies

Action needed to tackle stalled social mobility

“None of our member states has the dimension to compete with China and the US, not even Germany!”, Head of EUREKA Pedro Nunes on another Sting Exclusive

On Youth Participation: Are we active citizens?

Mankind’s first tool to fight malaria also kills

Terrorist content online: MEPs agree to start negotiations with EU countries

ACP-EU : Agreement on climate change, migration and post-Cotonou

‘More time’ agreed for buffer zone, to spare three million Syrian civilians in Idlib

‘Dire consequences’ for a million children in the Middle East, North Africa, as funding dwindles

Bankruptcy or referendum: which one is going to be first?

CHINA: five letters that could mean…

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s