Spanish Region Backs $571 Million Solar Plant Without Subsidies

Spain’s Extremadura region will support a 450 million-euro ($571 million) photovoltaic plant planned by German and local developers, its third solar project that won’t rely on subsidies.

The regional authority signed an agreement to fast-track permitting for a 400-megawatt solar park by S.A.G. Solarstrom AG and Valsolar 2006 SL, according to a statement today. The developers aim to start building the plant by 2014 and complete it in 2015.

The solar project, in Calzadilla de los Barros and Bienvenida, is at least the fifth planned in the nation without the support of subsidies, which were halted for all new plants in January. Three have been proposed in Extremadura and two in Murcia this year.

“This project will be a milestone nationally and in Europe,” Oliver Guenther, a Solarstrom board member, told a press conference on May 14. “It will be the first of this size in Europe that will generate power without state subsidies.”

The latest project in Extremadura will be four times larger than its biggest equivalent in Europe. The regional government signed a similar agreement on May 10 with Ecoenergias del Guadiana, a local developer, for a 500-megawatt solar park in Usagre for 725 million euros. In April, it endorsed a 250-megawatt project planned by another German developer, Gehrlicher Solar AG, for about 250 million euros.

Wuerth Solar GmbH & Co., another German developer, and Madrid-based Gestamp Renewables Corp plan solar parks of a similar scale in Murcia in southeastern Spain.

Solarstrom’s project will substitute two 50-megawatt solar thermal power projects that were planned by Valsolar before subsidies were halted. That technology is not viable without them, while very large photovoltaic plants can be profitable without support, the Badajoz-based company said.

All large-scale power projects in Spain need approval from the central government.

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