Large electric companies trigger the production of solar energy. Iberdrola, Endesa, Naturgy and Acciona Energía are taking advantage of the drive of photovoltaic solar energy to increasingly increase their installed capacity and, therefore, generation through technology is booming. In Spain alone, the Energy Balance was characterized in the first semester by an increase in photovoltaic solar production of 31% compared to the same period of the previous year, compared to a decrease in nuclear (-2%), combined cycles of natural gas (-31%) and coal (-52%).
Under a scenario in which the sun is increasingly the protagonist of the electricity ‘mix’, companies in the sector are launching themselves into the development and purchase of photovoltaic portfolios all over the world. Iberdrola ended the first half of the year with more than 41,200 renewable megawatts (MW). Among them, 4,991 solar MW stand out, which represents a strong increase of 45% compared to the first half of 2022. Between January and June, the company chaired by Ignacio Sánchez Galán commissioned the Almaraz I (50 MW) and Almaraz II (30 MW), in Cáceres, while in Setúbal (Portugal) the Alcochete I and II (46 MW) facilities have been in the commercial phase since May. For its part, in the United States new projects for more than 200 MW came into operation.
In this way, solar (own) generation worldwide increased by 56.4% compared to the first half of 2022, reaching 2,962 gigawatt hours (GWh). Its largest market in this sense was Spain, with 1,579 GWh, 48% more, followed by Mexico, with 684 GWh, 1.1% more. The greater contribution of renewable energies caused the electric company to raise its emission-free production ratio to 83%, a percentage that in the case of Spain rises to 89%. Thus, the group maintains its levels some two thirds lower than those of its European competitors.
Iberdrola will invest 47,000 million in renewables until 2025
The Bilbao-based company intends to invest 47,000 million euros between 2023 and 2025 in order to reach 52,000 MW of renewable installed power by the end of the period, with a special focus on offshore wind. To continue advancing in its objective, Iberdrola sold a strategic alliance at the beginning of the year with the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, managed by Norges Bank Investment Management, to jointly invest in 1,265 MW of new renewable capacity in Spain, of which 20 The % corresponds to wind power and 80%, to photovoltaic. The valuation of 100% of the portfolio is around 1,225 million euros.
For its part, Endesa maintained a gross installed renewable capacity of 9,293 MW on the peninsula, although it managed to increase ‘green’ production by 17%, up to 7,291 gigawatt hours (GWh). In this case, the good performance of photovoltaics also stands out, with 1,357 GWh, which represents a 50% increase compared to the first half of the previous year. The explanation for this increase, despite having the same capacity, is that at Endesa they count as installed capacity from the moment the plant pours its first kilowatt hour (kWh) into the grid, without reaching 100%. Thus, and after several months of commissioning, the plants counted as capacity in December 2022, reached their maximum between April and May.
The electricity company led by José Bogas updated its strategic plan in November 2022 and solid growth is expected in the emission-free generation park, up to 13,900 MW at the end of the period with an investment of 4,300 million euros. The new renewable capacity that will be added to the company’s energy ‘mix’ grows by 10% compared to the previous plan, up to 4,400 MW. Of these, 68% will be solar and the rest, wind. With this, 91% of the peninsular generating park will be free of emissions at the end of 2025 from 72% at the end of 2022.
Acciona Energía is another of the Spanish companies that is growing by leaps and bounds in photovoltaic solar energy. The firm of the Entrecanales family increased the installed capacity by 35% between January and June compared to the first half of 2022, reaching 2,081 MW between Spain and the rest of the markets where it operates, with which production increased by 13%. up to 1,728 GWh. The majority of MW has them abroad and in the national territory it has focused more on the expansion of wind power.
The hybridization of wind farms, the new fashion in renewables
However, in order not to be left out of the solar ‘boom’, it has 2.3 GW of photovoltaic hybridization in its portfolio, which are pending to start or advance in their environmental approval process, although all have guaranteed access to the network. The photovoltaic plants that they intend to erect in the Escepar and Peralejo wind farms, located in the municipalities of Villalba del Rey and Tinajas (Cuenca), stand out. Its construction will begin this year and consists of 90,384 modules, which will produce an average of 92 GWh of clean electricity per year.
On its side, Naturgy is also stepping on the accelerator and ended the semester with a solar production of 678 GWh, which translates into a year-on-year increase of 32%. The gas company is committed to the construction in Spain of some 30 wind farms and photovoltaic plants, equivalent to about 1 GW of additional renewable capacity that are expected to come into operation during 2024. In addition, during the first half of the year, it reached an agreement with Ardian for the acquisition of 100% of ASR Wind, with photovoltaic solar hybridization projects of 435 MWp. In the United States, the construction of its first solar plant has also begun, with an installed capacity of 300 MW, and its start-up is scheduled for next year.