Tentusol eyes FIT-free Spain PV park

Spanish solar developer and consultancy Tentusol has pulled back the curtain on plans to build 250MW of subsidy-free PV capacity in Andalusia, southern Spain, over the next few years.

Sevilla-based Tentusol, which has only built 15MW of capacity since it was founded in 2006, aims to develop the project across five 50MW phases, with the first slated for grid-connection in mid-2015.

The fifth and final phase would be in place by 2017.

The arrays are estimated to cost €276m ($363m) in total and would cover as much as 800 hectares of land near the municipality of Trebujena, south of Sevilla, with the power fed to a nearby substation at El Puerto de Santa Maria.

Despite the Spanish government’s decision last year to freeze all subsidies for future solar projects, a number of developers, both domestic and foreign, are pursuing huge PV projects across the country, leveraging the strong local solar irradiation and generation gaps in Spain’s power grid.

Late last year German developer SAG Solarstrom confirmed plans to build 440MW of subsidy-free PV capacity in Extremadura, with construction slated to kick off in the second half of 2013.

Other developers with similar plans include Spain’s Gestamp and Solaria, as well as Germany’s Gehrlicher.

Tentusol, like the others, believes its projects will profitable simply selling power into the grid.

While analysts generally believe that at least some of the new raft of subsidy-free projects will get built in Spain – representing a breakthrough for solar energy in Europe – many will probably fall by the wayside.

Among the principal challenges for the developers are securing financing, obtaining government approval, and the likelihood that a surge of new solar capacity would dent daytime power prices enough to make further projects uneconomic.

By far the world’s largest solar market in 2008, demand in Spain has since fallen off a cliff, and it is widely seen as one of the most under-performing markets in Europe.

The country installed less than 300MW last year, putting in ninth place in Europe, behind the likes of Denmark and Belgium.

Nevertheless, Spain's earlier boom has left it with 5.2GW of total capacity in place, behind only Germany and Italy in the EU, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.