Iberdrola back on solar's case

Spanish wind-power giant Iberdrola renewed its attack on the solar sector today, as it revealed that regulatory changes in its home market had knocked €503m ($692) from its operating profits in the first nine months of the year.

New levies as a result of Spanish energy reforms accounted for half of a €1bn global hit on Iberdrola’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) as a result of regulatory costs in key markets, including the UK where it has a significant presence via its ScottishPower subsidiary.

As far as the Spanish market is concerned, Iberdrola – the world’s biggest wind power operator – criticised the reforms for failing to benefit the public or effectively address the country’s ‘tariff deficit’ – the gap between consumer prices and generation costs.

Iberdrola said: “The measures also fail to limit the growth of immature technologies such as solar, which only contribute 5% to total production, while accounting for 20% of the energy costs.”

Spain’s CSP sector in particular has previously been the target of Iberdrola CEO Ignacio Galan, who has described it as inefficient and costly.

This week Spanish CSP giant Abengoa revealed that it plans to begin putting distance between itself and Spain after listing on the US stock exchange.

Iberdrola said it has reduced its debt by €3.31bn over the past 12 months, meeting half of its objective of a €6bn cut in the period 2012 to 2014.

And the group said it had managed to limit the damage to its profits caused by the regulatory changes, and by negative Forex movements, thanks to efficiency measures and better performance in some areas.

Iberdrola’s renewables business actually grew Ebitda by 2.5% year-on-year, 53% of that figure coming from outside Spain, where taxation increased by 3.5 times, said the utility.