Cooperative Approach for 2.5 MW Spanish Solar PV Project

This weekend Acciona Solar dedicated what it called the largest photovoltaic (PV) facility to be put into service in Spain. Located in Castejon, Navarre, the 2.44 MW facility consists of 400 solar trackers, with 14,400 panels. And through a continuation of cooperative strategy from Acciona’s part, the project belongs to 279 owners and represents a total investment of 19 million euros [~US$22.6 million] for each of these owners.

The “solar gardens,” as Acciona Solar calls them, are sites that bring together small, individually owned PV installations that take advantage of Spain’s renewable energy feed-in rebates. The energy management and performance of the project is optimized because the infrastructure and common services are shared. The electricity produced by each panel is sent to the national grid and is invoiced separately by each owner. The trackers on the site will generate around 4.4 million kWh per year of clean and renewable electricity, with production equivalent to the consumption of more than 1,400 households. This level of production will avoid the emission of 4,307 tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, with a purifying effect on the air equivalent to that of 215,000 trees through the process of photosynthesis. This facility is the sixth of its type developed by the Acciona building plot in Navarre. Overall the solar gardens represent a capacity 10.20 MW distributed among 1,673 solar trackers belonging to more than 1000 people. Prior to the Castejon project, solar gardens entered service at Sesma, which has a 1.57 megawatt-peak (MWp) [megawatt-peak refers to the maximum energy obtained when the sun is strongest], Arguedas I (0.98 MWp), Arguedas II (2.05 MWp), Rada (1.71 MWp) and Cintruenigo (1.46 MWp). The solar garden at Castejon covers a site of about 110,000 square meters. Each of its 400 solar trackers has 36 single crystal silicon panels (or modules) (BP model with Saturno technology) mounted on a structure of 50 square meters in the form of a grille. These structures are programmed to follow the sun from east to west, depending on the different position of the sun every day of the year. They turn on an azimuth plane at an inclination of 45 degrees to optimize the capture of the sun’s rays, which are then transformed into electric power by the PV cells in the solar panels. The trackers, of Buskil technology, have been developed by Acciona Solar and offer an increase in energy production of up to 35% in comparison with conventional fixed panel systems. The solar garden model responds to the need to make investment in solar power affordable to a larger part of society. An individual facility represents an investment of 47,000 euros [~US$56,000] with payback over 10 years — taking into account existing government aid, tax breaks and remuneration for PV solar energy as called for in the legislation. Apart from reducing costs and increasing efficiency, the grouping of installations in solar gardens allows greater security, simpler management and the use of technical solutions that are not viable in independent systems, e.g., solar tracking, highly reliable connection to the grid, the series production manufacture of components, the development of simulation software to calculate annual production, or experimentation in the generation field. The service provided by Acciona Solar includes the comprehensive management of the solar gardens, including invoicing, administrative procedures and the control of the production of each owner from its central office. The owner can check his/her daily, monthly and annual production via the Internet. Acciona Solar currently has facilities under construction and has plans for a capacity exceeding 30 MWp. These are located in Navarre, Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, the Canary Islands and other Spanish regions.
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