by Rodrigo Orihuela, Bloomberg
Iberdrola SA is working to build what it says will be Europe’s largest solar farm at a cost of 300 million euros ($337 million).
The Spanish utility has started the process with the country’s Ecological Transition ministry to build a 590-megawatt farm in the Western region of Extremadura, according to a statement Thursday. The company will now follow government rules to hold public hearings and collect comments on the impact on the environment and for landowners, a mandatory process before starting the project.
Spain’s renewable energy market has being booming over the last couple years, through a combination of large auctions and a green-energy friendly Socialist government. The country is Europe’s hottest renewables market and is set to deliver 7 gigawatts of solar and wind this year, according to estimates from BloombergNEF.
Iberdrola, the world’s first major utility to embrace renewable energy more than a decade ago, has another seven solar projects either under construction or awaiting government approval in Spain, with a combined capacity of 1,178 megawatts. It has solar farms in Mexico and the U.S.
The new facility, called Pizarro, will house about 1.7 million solar panels spread over 1,300 hectares, according to Julio Castro, head of Iberdrola’s Spanish renewable energy business. Power from the panels will feed into the grid through a line that to date has been used by the Almaraz nuclear plant.
“We will finance the project with our balance sheet, although there is always a possibility that in the future we could change into some sort of project loan,” Castro said. He declined to comment on the rate of return for the investment.