German Developers Plan Solar Parks in Spain Without Subsidies

Two German solar energy developers are planning to build photovoltaic plants in southern Spain that will earn a return without government subsidies.

Wuerth Solar GmbH & Co. intends to build a 287-megawatt plant in the Murcia area for 277 million euros ($363 million), according to the regional authority. Gehrlicher Solar AG said it plans to develop a 250-megawatt solar park in the Extremadura region for about 250 million euros.

The projects, about three times larger than any European solar plant, may be the first that don’t rely on feed-in tariffs and compete with wholesale power prices. All plants in the region so far depend on fixed premium rates for solar power, which can be several times higher than wholesale prices.

Spain suspended the tariffs on Jan. 27 as part of government austerity measures, threatening the survival of the industry. Tariffs for large-scale solar were set at 121 euros per megawatt-hour. Developers now look to build plants without this support, helped by falling equipment prices.

Gehrlicher has an agreement with the regional authority for a project in Talavan and will seek government approval within months, Sonia Gomez, a spokeswoman, said today. The company, based in Dornach near Munich, hopes to secure the permit in six to eight months and start construction in the second quarter of 2013.

‘Tremendous Interest’

“We are seeking to open the way for subsidy-free solar in Spain, which is possible because grid parity is expected here next year,” Gomez said by phone. “Institutional investors and banks are already showing tremendous interest in this model.”

Wuerth, based in Schwabisch Hall near Stuttgart, also has an agreement with the regional government for a record project.

The company, which sold its panel factory to solar equipment maker Manz AG last year, aims to start building the solar park in Jumilla from 2014 over two years, according to an April 4 statement from the regional authority.

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