Canary Islands Display Plumes of PV Power

Sometimes, the best way to reach a large goal is to break it into small parts. On the Canary Island chain, the Tenerife Island Council (Cabildo de Tenerife) and Institute of Renewable Energies (ITER) have plans for a 15 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) array. For the first stage of the grid-connected PV facility, which will hopefully grow beyond the 15 MW, the organizations have proposed to develop 150 individual fields of 100 kW each and sell the ownership of each field to private investors.

According to information on the Cabildo’s Web site, creating such a monstrous field on the island would help decrease energy dependence on imported fossil fuel and help the island meet its goals through the Kyoto Protocol for reducing air pollution. Allowing small investors to purchase a share in the renewable energy market is good for the island economy, obviously, and construction of each array would produce employment and research opportunities. Each 100 kW field will be connected to the island’s power grid individually. ITER will have the responsibility to build, maintain and manage the entire facility. In order to favor the access of small investors to this project, ITER will support the creation of societies made by a limited group of shareholders who contribute to the total purchase amount. Modules for the fields will be made of monocrystalline silicon cells with efficiency ratings between 15 percent and 18 percent. Each module should have a nominal output power of 175 W. Renewable energy as a primary source of power generation is quite low on the Canary Islands. Information from the Cabildo states that this is due, in part, to the importance that energy resources such as biomass and hydroelectric have achieved over the years. In 2001, the renewable energy resources were responsible for only 0.61 percent of the total local needs. For such energies to have a significant impact in the local energy consumption market it is necessary to aim for annual renewable energy production of at least 30 percent, according to the Cabildo. This should reduce the amount of fuel that is imported to the island, and help to establish a more reliable power distribution system for Tenerife. Furthermore, due to the improvement in the special PV generated power rate for facilities of less than 100 kW made by the Spanish Government (RD436/2004), the power generation with this source of renewable energy has become quite an appealing source of wealth. The facility will be located on land belonging to the Industrial Area of Granadilla.

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