In the midst of the ongoing global energy response to the COVID-19 pandemic some positive news emerged last week on the international stage as Europe’s largest photovoltaic plant went into operation.
The Núñez de Balboa facility, located in Extremadura, a region in Spain’s west, discharged its first MWh of clean energy into the Spanish electricity grid. The plant is operated by the Spanish company Iberdrola, a global renewable energy leader, who successfully commissioned the Núñez de Balboa project (with 500 megawatts of installed power and requiring an investment approaching €300m) in record time, completing construction in just one year in December 2019. Núñez de Balboa covers an area of nearly 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) – for reference the MCG is 6 hectares in size so this project area would be larger than 166 MCGs - and will produce around 832 GWh per year, thanks to its 1,430,000 photovoltaic panels, installed on 288,000 ground mounts and with a total weight of 12,100 metric tons.
According to Iberdrola, the record-breaking flagship solar plant will generate enough clean energy to supply 250,000 people per year and will reduce 215,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. The company also stated that additional benefits from the project include the supply of clean energy to major clients committed to sustainable consumption in Spain’s banking, telecommunications and distribution sectors through long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).
This positive, and welcome, news for the renewable energy sector comes at a challenging time for the industry across the globe. Impacts to workforces, project investment and supply chain disruptions from COVID-19 continue to pose a risk to renewable initiatives, especially in badly affected regions of Europe and the United States.
Here in Australia, AEMO will continue to support federal and state governments in considering additional measures which may be required to support the security and reliability of the energy system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are also working with the energy industry including electricity generators, gas facilities, network businesses and other market participants to support additional pandemic management actions across the sector.
We will continue to keep you updated on all the latest pandemic related responses and activity domestically and internationally so stayed tuned for more on this evolving situation.