NÚÑEZ DE BALBOA PHOTOVOLTAIC PLANT

Núñez de Balboa, the biggest photovoltaic plant in Europe

Iberdrola group, through its subsidiary in Spain, has built in Badajoz the Núñez de Balboa photovoltaic plant, which, with 500 MWp of installed capacity and the ability to supply clean energy to 250,000 people, has become the largest in Europe.

Location
Usagre (Badajoz)

Total installed capacity
500 MWp

Maximum grid
connection capacity
391 MW

Annual production
832 GWh

Total investment
290 million euros

Start date
April 2020

Núñez de Balboa
photovoltaic plant

Iberdrola took a decisive step towards photovoltaic energy with the commissioning of the Núñez de Balboa photovoltaic plant in Usagre (Badajoz), the biggest in Europe. The plant, with an installed capacity of 500 MWp (391 MW of maximum grid connection capacity), will supply clean energy to 250,000 people, more than the population of Cáceres and Badajoz put together, avoiding the emission into the atmosphere of 215,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Ignacio Galán, chairman of Iberdrola group

The plant will avoid the emission of 215,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, strengthening our commitment to mitigating global warming

Núñez de Balboa covers an area of nearly 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) and will produce around 832 GWh per year, thanks to its 1,430,000 photovoltaic panels, installed on 288,000 ground mounts and with a total weigh of 12,100 metric tons.

The construction of this project has injected life into the local industrial fabric and created local jobs, with purchases worth €227M from some 30 suppliers, who have participated in the construction, supply of photovoltaic modules, the fixed structure, inverters, transformers, and the civil works and engineering of the electrical lines and substation. The works have created the record number of more than 1,200 jobs, 70 % of them for workers from Extremadura.

Núñez de Balboa in firgures.#RRSSNúñez de Balboa in firgures.

 SEE INFOGRAPHIC: Núñez de Balboa in firgures [PDF]

The project's logistical complexity — transporting the main components to the site involved some 3,200 containers — has required a major effort to coordinate the manufacturing, transport and on-site assembly phases. On the other hand, the modular installation design simplifies the installation work and leads to greater safety.

The project includes the development of the whole grid connection infrastructure. It has 115 inverters — to convert the DC produced by the panels into AC suitable for use — and over 2,000 kilometres of medium and low-tension cables. The power produced will be exported to the 400 kV Bienvenida substation, located in the town of the same name.

PIONEER IN GREEN LOANS

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO) contributed 290 million euros (145 the EIB and 140 the ICO) to finance the plant, thanks to an agreement signed with Iberdrola.

REACTIVATION OF THE CLEAN ENERGY IN SPAIN

The project is part of Iberdrola's plan to install another 2,000 megawatts of solar and wind power in Extremadura by 2022 — of which more than 1,300 are currently awaiting administrative approval —, thus placing this region right in the middle of its European renewable strategy. The announcement was made by the group's chairman, Ignacio Galán, during the groundbreaking ceremony which saw the first solar panel installed at Núñez de Balboa.

Of the new projects in the region some are at an advanced stage of development, including the Ceclavín, Arenales and Campo Arañuelo I and II PV plants. In addition, also under construction are the Francisco Pizarro project — which, with 590 MW, will be the largest in Europe —, in addition to those in Majada Alta and San Antonio (50 MW each).

This move is the result of the company's plan to reactivate clean energy in Spain, where the company will invest €8 billion between 2018 and 2022, and commission up to 10,000 megawatts by 2030 — 3,000 of them by 2022 —. These actions will enable jobs to be created for 20,000 people. Iberdrola is the leader in energy from renewable sources in Spain, with an installed capacity of over 16,000 MW, a figure that in the world rises to about 32,000 MW, which puts its generation facilities are among the cleanest in the energy sector.

POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS

To ensure the return on investment for this macro-project, Iberdrola has negotiated private agreements with different companies to supply them long term with 100 % renewable energy from the plant in Extremadura (Spain). So far, the company has signed Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with three major Spanish corporations:

  • The bank Kutxabank, which will use this electricity exclusively at all of its banking premises and branches across Spain.
  • The telecommunications operator Euskaltel.
  • The distribution group Uvesco (BM Supermercados).